Re-grouping your brand
If you’re operating in a highly competitive market or just starting out, innovation is probably right at the bottom of your to do list. But incremental changes can have just as much impact as game-changing shifts if they’re based on solid customer and market insight, so innovation is possible, even if your business is more risk-averse.
Sometimes, even if your brand is performing well, there will be times when re-grouping is essential in order to defend against competitors who are growing in influence. For example, Schweppes launched a new premium brand Schweppes 1783, plus a £10m marketing campaign, in response to an influx of ‘craft’ brands like Fever-Tree, despite Schweppes still being the market leader and holding 27 per cent of the UK tonic market. Schweppes took a once fairly low-engagement product like mixers and premiumised them to appeal to a more discerning drinker who cares what their single batch artisan gin is paired with.
UK managing director Jon Woods said: “One of the great things about competition is it forces you to look at your own business and decide how you could be better. “We’ve taken a while, watched the market to see how it’s developed, talked to consumers to see what they want, and we’ve come up with a really fantastic approach for a relaunch of Schweppes.”
Jam firm Duerr’s have followed a similar curve with NPD. With reports of sales of jams and spreads falling by 2.9 per cent last yearxv, the UK-based firm first added peanut butter to its product portfolio to acknowledge a growing demand for nut butters (sales of nut butters leapt by over a fifth in 2017) as shoppers continue to focus on reducing sugar in their diets. This may not seem like a ground-breaking move, but for a business with a long heritage of producing a very particular kind of product, this incremental innovation driven by strong market insight is the ideal approach to ensure they can defend and build their business.
Innovation isn’t just about new products or packaging and you don’t have to spend millions on marketing: it can cover everything from print finishes with clever functionality built in to point of sale technology that gives the customer added choice, or pack format that becomes something new and useful when you get it home.
"Each consumer group has a ‘tipping point’ of what makes them spend more, become more engaged, switch brands. The blanket idea of ‘premium’ - one size fits all - is limiting. Understanding what is ‘precious’ or important to your consumers makes for innovation that is responsive, so a good place to start is listening. Listen to what is important and re-group around changes that have true long-term relevance for your brand."
Becky Fone - Innovation Director - Parker Williams
For example, Nutella’s recent campaign acknowledged the many ways its loyal consumers enjoyed its product by using an algorithm to produce seven million unique label designs for the Italian market. Like Absolut before it, Nutella was secure enough in its brand identity to shed its standard design in favour of creating pieces of kitchen cupboard art that would appeal to consumers’ sense of individuality. The entire collection sold out in just two months.