What Makes a Product Innovative?

brand-as-business bit:  Nielsen recently released its “2012 Breakthrough Innovation Awards” in which it recognized new CPG product introductions that met its criteria for innovative-ness. The winners are an interesting mix (Glaceau vitaminwater zero, Chobani, and Zyrtec top the list) and the report is an informative read about the CPG industry and instructive about innovation in general, so I suggest you take a look.

Some choice nuggets:

  • Nielsen applied four criteria:  distinctiveness, relevance, category impact (defined as higher than average sales velocity – because “high sales velocity brands help grow the category overall”), and endurance
  • Only 34 (less than .5%) of the 11,000 new products introduced between 2008 and 2020 met the criteria.
  • One common theme across the winners was identifying unmet demand – “Consumers do not buy products so much as they hire brands to perform jobs in their lives. This may not sound like a big deal, but a flawed initial frame of reference – such as focusing on product features, demographically-defined segments, or competition – compromises the effectiveness of all subsequent steps.”

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