Monday, June 4, 2007

The Innovation Challenge

I’m a glass half-full kind of guy, but you’d have to have your eyes and ears shut not to know that most new products fail in the market. The latest stats I’ve come across were from Phil Lempert quoting The Nielsen Company. The facts are grim. Of the 88,000 bar-coded products introduced in the year up to 24 March 2007, just under 3 percent made more than a million in sales. No surprise that over 56 percent of them were food or beverages, and no surprise either that of the top 100 products that took off, 96 percent of them were brand extensions. Ninety-six percent. As Phil Lempert points out, ‘new ain’t what it used to be'. To me this experience alone makes a strong argument for Lovemarks. Looking at product development from the brand’s perspective puts you on the starting line along with all your competition. You are all working with the same market analysis, the same trends, the same game plan. Starting with Lovemarks and the idea that consumers own the brand puts you ahead immediately. Instead of looking sideways at the competition, you can look straight ahead at shoppers, mothers, parents. You need to explore their world. As our head planner at Saatchi & Saatchi, Sandy Thompson says, “If you want to learn about how a lion hunts, don’t go to the zoo. Go to the jungle”.


Susan956 said...

Agreed (ref: Sandy) but the vast majority of Australian research companies are totally resistant to ethnographic style research that garners 'real world' insights from within; they're still very reliant on the zoo and not the jungle and I suspect that is an old reliance on numbers/stats as opposed to rich data insight. Branding, to my mind, helps reduce 'noise' for consumers and I believe consumers are asking for noise reduction.

J said...


When I first learned about the number of new products that die a death almost as soon as they have been launched I was shocked. I thought how on earth do you make something work?
Lovemarks hits the nail on the head and its something I am learning. Lose the arrogance, lose the presumption, its all about the other person, all about the consumer, the customer what does he or she want? Not look how clever I am look at my brand but look what this person needs to be happy.
So I recently had a chat with a supplier of a product and he laughed at my idea and said why on earth should anybody else pay more for what you want to do? I told him, its because I am offering a lovemark, an experience that inspires emotion and loyalty.
Lovemarks is the future of branding, its all about the what you can give and not what you can take.

Susan956 said...

Jo.. Wouldn't the ultimate proposition of Lovemarks become (to coin an aging term) win/win? That the distance between manufacturer/marketer and consumer becomes knife edge (with each side being credited for their specialist knowledge)?

I know as a consumer there are times I would welcome a manufacturer/retailer telling me why I cannot have 'x' - why it would not be sensible. An example, I have rented an apartment in Sydney and one room has tiles. I am very mindful of protecting the floor and for this and another reason I considered buying carpet to fit the room area and having the edges overlocked. A retailer told me it was a poor idea (in nicer terms). In moving through the topic with the man I realised it was a poor idea and would in fact create the very problem I had wished to avoid. In this case looking for options with him didn't work BUT for that initial period I learned something from his experience and expertise and I valued that.

A lot can be found in learning to listen to both sides; to the product expertise and the consumer need (and sometimes need vs desire). We've just got a little lost I think in sometimes moving away from the brilliance of what a product or service actually does - we've thrown a lot of noise over that...and sometimes..sometimes, products are simply unnecessary. Example - just HOW many lipstick colour variations are really needed or soft drink flavours or...?

If someone brought out a soft drink that was pitched at reminding you of playing with plasticine while at school "plasto fizz"..whilst it might amuse you initially..would it become a Lovemark? I tend to think not...not unless you have some sort of pica issue :) So, Susan 956 battered the door of Manufacturer B and insisted she was able to buy plasto fizz..doesn't mean they should make it. However, a responsive maker would tell me why they probably wouldn't and perhaps do other things (various options come to mind) to win me over despite saying no.