Drive real brand growth through innovation

Innovation is the lifeblood of brands. And that means an innovation must help build the brand, not just meet consumer needs.
28 May 2021
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Nicki Morley
Dr Nicki
Morley

Head of Behavioural Science and Innovation Expertise, Insights Division, UK

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New needs, tensions, and changing contexts all offer significant opportunities for innovation, and innovation drives brand growth. According to BrandZ, brands that are perceived as innovative grow their value seven times faster than those that are not.

However, creating meaningful innovation is more challenging than ever. It is not just that the speed of business is faster, consumer needs and values are changing, and new competitors are eager to gain advantage. And the turmoil of the last year has accelerated change. While many people are desperate to get back to life as normal, there will be permanent changes in behavior to which brands must adapt quickly.

Innovate fast, stay agile

If you are going to seize an innovation opportunity before your competition, you need to move quickly. To innovate effectively in our shifting environment, brands need a more agile, flexible, and collaborative innovation process, one that uses technology to accelerate development and instill best practice. Platforms like Kantar Marketplace offer automated solutions, presenting the chance to get the feedback you need, when you need it.

One of the critical stages of innovation is making sure your concept will resonate with your target audience and drive incremental growth – before investing significant development budget. A good concept test should quickly compare competing ideas using proven methods and identify a concept’s long-term potential by looking at predictors of trial, top-line growth and incremental sales for your portfolio. But that still leaves an important question unanswered: will your innovation fit with your brand and help to build equity?

Innovation must fit the brand

People are drawn to brands that they see to be meaningfully different from their competition. And those perceptions support higher brand values. But within a company, all too often innovation development is separate from brand development. Simply creating a new product and telling the brand team to go sell it is not a recipe for success. Not all innovation is good for brands, and not all brands are a credible fit for a given innovation opportunity.

These days, the word innovation tends to bring names like Tesla, Airbnb, or TikTok to mind, but the majority of new products are launched in association with established brands. In these cases, it is critical that the innovation fits with consumer’s expectations of the specific brand. Burger King’s healthy fries were only available for a year before being discontinued. The idea might have fit the times, but it did not fit the brand. Satisfries were just not at home in the house of the Whopper. By contrast, Febreze Gel Bathroom Air Freshener not only fits people’s expectations of the Febreze brand, but it also helps extend its relevance to a new need, making the overall brand more meaningful. Febreze Gel Bathroom Air Freshener was one of the most successful UK new product introductions of 2020.

Measuring innovation’s brand impact

To assess innovation’s likely impact on brand growth, Concept eValuate measures the qualities possessed by the brands that sell the most, command the highest price premium, and generate most value. First, does the innovation make the brand more meaningful, by improving perceptions that the brand fits people’s needs and boosting brand affinity? Second, does it help differentiate the brand, by making the brand seem unique and improving perceptions that it is a trend setter? Together, these two qualities help predict whether an innovation will boost Brand Power and improve people’s predisposition to choose the brand over the longer term. And because brand equity plays such an important role in an innovation’s long-term success, Concept eValuate on Kantar Marketplace now features an optional brand equity module that evaluates the impact your concept will have on your brand.

Driving short-term sales and brand value

With speed a priority, it is all too easy to focus on the short term. Which concept is best? How do we improve it? Will it achieve our sales goals? But innovation and brand building go hand in hand. Every innovation has the potential to build your brand or undermine it. And over the long term, a strong brand is far more valuable than a single innovation. Now, with automated concept testing tools like Concept eValuate on Kantar Marketplace, you can test the likely brand impact of your innovations without slowing down, ensuring you build sales and brand value.

Get in touch to find out how Kantar Marketplace can boost both your innovation success and your brand.

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