Innovation conference

Disruptive change drives real growth

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Food and drink innovation will be the topic of conversation at New Frontiers in Food & Drink
Food and drink innovation will be the topic of conversation at New Frontiers in Food & Drink

Related tags Entrepreneurship

Creative insights are the real drivers of business growth in food and drink and yet, all too often, companies stick with the safe option, adopting a tick-box approach to innovation, according to leading consultants in the field.

“When your budget is limited, you have to make intelligent choices about what to do next,”​ said Nick Southgate, as he introduced and chaired an insight event organised by the Food and Drink Innovation Network in London last year.

“Often reworking ideas is as new as you need to be,”​ said Southgate. It’s all about distinction versus differentiation, he said. True novelty is rare and difficult to achieve, while reinvention is as much a part of innovation as novelty, he added. “Psychology is as much a part of innovation as the physical product.”

He suggested that the development part of new product development implied a process that could all too readily become a “dead-hand on the tiller”.

Exposed to risk

“Insights get rounded-off and ground down in development but too often we blame the insight and not the process, because we can’t change the process,”​ said Southgate. “Holding our confidence is about finding ways to expose ourselves to risk when we don’t know all the answers.”

Nick Smith, director of the ?What if! innovation consultancy supported this view and asserted that it was necessary to act like an entrepreneur to unlock growth.

“Innovation has to inspire and liberate people,”​ he claimed. Unfortunately, he added, too many businesses were dependent on “fading revenue streams”.

“It means putting something fresh and better in front of consumers in order to drive growth,”​ said Smith. “Creating to grow needed to become more central to what businesses do.”

Game evolution

He noted that hard discounter Aldi was a good example of doing this sort of “game evolution”​ approach and “concentrating on what matters”.

“You must force yourself to think disruptively about your category and break the rules,”​ said Smith. However, he accepted, this could be uncomfortable for many people.

“Teams have to stop behaving like employees and become entrepreneurs,”​ he claimed.

Claire Nuttall, who runs Brand Incubator, explained to delegates how freedom of approach could open up great new insight.

Claire Nuttall will be speaking at Food Manufacture Group’s one-day food innovation conference: ‘New frontiers in food & drink’, which takes place on Thursday March 17 at etc.venues St Pauls in London. For more details visit​ or call Ilanit Slowly on 01293 610374.

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1 comment

To sell you need a buyer

Posted by Christophe Pelletier,

You can innovate all you want and any way you want. In the end, if the customer does not buy it, then it's a flop.
Innovation must meet a (set of) need(s) shared by your target market. Innovation must always be market driven.

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