Consumer-centricity is at the heart of successful innovation. By understanding the needs and desires of consumers, brands can create innovative products that resonate with their target audience.
It is important to dig deep and uncover the core reasons behind consumer behavior. For example, Gillette's in-depth understanding of shaving habits revealed insights that led to a series of successful innovations that helped address unstated needs and also help the brand premiumize. By addressing these insights and pain points and delivering solutions like Gillette did with Gillette Mach 3 or Gillette ProGlide Flexball for instance, brands can stay relevant and appeal to both current and new generations of consumers.
Another example of product innovation is Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk, a premium chocolate in India. In this case, the brand was able to think both present-forward, but also future-back to create a better product experience for the consumer. Going beyond smooth chocolate, they created a slight dome shape for each cube of chocolate, which fits the palate of the mouth better. As a result, the chocolate melts faster, giving the consumer the experience of a smooth, melting chocolate.
Trends, too, play a pivotal role in driving innovation. Brands must keep a pulse on emerging trends and anticipate future needs, potentially working with companies like Kantar and Euromonitor, who can provide these insights. For instance, urbanization is a huge trend that brands need to pay attention to. Across Asia and Africa, people are moving into urban centers in search for jobs, creating different views of how they approach their purchasing decisions. As a brand, you should keep on top of trends – especially the mega trends that will achieve significant scale 10 years from now.
By identifying trends that have the potential to become significant in the long run, brands can position themselves as frontrunners in the market. You should understand your consumer cohorts and segmentation, have frequent brand and consumption tracks, and leverage social listening to approach innovation with your customer’s experience in mind.
Additionally, cross-industry inspiration and collaboration can spark breakthrough innovations. Taking cues from other sectors and adapting them to the FMCG space can lead to exciting and disruptive products that capture consumers' attention. Think about the ice cream cone – a completely serendipitous product innovation when an ice cream seller ran out of cups and had to think on his feet. He ended up partnering with a waffle maker in a neighboring stand, and thus, the ice cream cone was born!
To view the full content, sign up for a free account and unlock 3 free podcasts, power reads or videos every month.
Chief Marketing Officer | Former VP, Marketing
Mars | Mondelēz International