There has been a lot of talk recently about the lack of innovation in the foods and drinks sector and how this is leading to increased competition and volume growth over value growth.
Certainly, visits to two large trade exhibitions over recent months didn’t present an array of products that could be classed as truly new, more a case of a slight twist on existing presentations and flavours – but there were a few of interest.
As I have delivered numerous successful projects for clients from product concept creation through to launch, I believe the key to success in this frontier exploration area is robust ideation.
Innovation most frequently starts within defined parameters whereas ideation knows no barriers.
Many innovators will talk about ‘blue sky thinking’ or ‘thinking outside the box’ but both of these terms are in themselves restrictive and limit the potential for developing the extraordinary.
After all, the mind is like a parachute, it works best when it is open! So I focus on bringing in stimuli and ideas from unrelated business sectors, cultures and continents.
I do so by looking at the intersection of the three key elements that define the world we live in today – technology, society and consumer – and then, using combined analysis of these three elements, to visualise future needs opportunities.
Enhancing this ideascape with summaries of current trends and looking for potential hotspots for innovation forms a sound foundation for a deeper look at candidate ideas as part of the rigour that is required to identify the stars which can deliver commercial success.
I recall some years back, undertaking one of my first, two day ideation and innovation session for one of my clients. Subsequent to the event he openly admitted that at of the first day he had absolutely no idea of the relevance of the work we’d undertaken collectively. But he was thrilled and delighted at the end of the second day session to have over 20 ideation concepts for development and delivery over a five-year timeframe.
And I’m delighted to say that his business has gone on to win many awards for sector-leading innovation.