November 5, 2009
The accepted wisdom is that innovation in a recession pays off. That those who haven't made the investment will find themselves falling behind when the economy turns. But exactly what kind of innovation are we talking about? At our Packaging that Sells conference a few weeks back, Help Remedies CEO Richard Fine gave a memorable talk that drove home a point that innovation must be thoughtfully and strategically considered. Some innovation is unecessary and some is just bad, he said, offering examples like this packaged banana and this surprising concoction from Jimmy Dean.
Of course, we all know how such things come about. Often, it's because a competitor has encroached on a brand's turf or launched into a new category and the marketer simply needs to "get something out." Or, as Fine theorized about the overpackaged banana, it's an attempt to upgrade a low-margin product (in this case, elevating the "lowly" banana into a premium-worthy "banana snack"). By the end of his talk, the former innovation consultant had us all thinking deeply about the differences between true innovation and what he described as faux-and making a mental note to be sure, as we press forward during these challenging times, that we're not throwing the term innovation around. A full recap of our Packaging that Sells conference is available here.