Velocity of change… are you acting fast enough to stay on top?

By Reach Brands

How’s this for a great quote from a topical source? Rupert Murdoch said: “The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be the fast beating the slow.”

Consumer attitudes towards brands and products are noticeably changing at quite a pace. Driven by a desire for the new and different – but also a growing need for goods to be an extension of the self and say something about us as individuals.

The upshot of this is, that consumers are more fickle. They’re willing to easily change their buying patterns and habits. And they’ve become very accepting of short-lived or tactical products and brands.

So with this in mind, here are 10 ideas to ensure your innovation process adapts to these new market dynamics:

  • Start looking at nifty, quick win innovations as well as the larger, category changing two-year projects.
  • Keep searching for new and different ways to talk to consumers – focus groups aren’t going to cut it in this new environment. To really gain unique insights you need to see consumers interacting with your product: understand what makes them tick and what frustrates and annoys them.
  • Consider setting up an internal innovation department. With 101 other tasks to be managing, brand managers aren’t the best people to lead or generate innovation because they can’t give it the full drive and momentum it needs.
  • If a great idea does not strategically fit your brand, consider whether it would fit another brand in the company’s portfolio? Perhaps there’s even the possibility of developing and seeding a new brand which could then grow on its own momentum. Remember, consumers like small brands with character and individuality.
  • Innovation workshops, however unstructured, should be happening every couple of months – not just a couple of times a year.
  • Don’t be afraid to throw out ideas if a better one emerges. Create systems that embrace responsiveness and allow for the halting of projects at critical stages. Make sure that resources focus on the clear winners.
  • Change the way you think. It’s not just about filling manufacturing lines, identifying the gaps in your range or reacting to the competition. An innovation or creative consultancy should be good at enabling a different way of thinking.
  • Start thinking about outsourcing production; even if it’s only to allow you to respond quickly before you bring things in-house.
  • Build strong partnerships with innovative thinkers outside. Keeping things in-house will result in an inward focus.
  • Be brave. Break the category norms and be different. Consumers love it and it quickly builds awareness of a product or brand.

We are shifting into a world that is constantly changing. And we all need to embrace this fact, rather than hunker down and wait for the next period of stability. From all our interactions with consumers it seems that the pace of change is speeding up, not slowing down. So put the foot on the accelerator or risk getting left behind.