If you’re a smaller business, do you feel like innovation and new product development is just for the big guys? Do your thoughts lean towards limiting beliefs like “I don’t have the time or $$ to be innovative”?
Well, the good news is that any business can be innovative. All it takes is the mind set and processes that help you be receptive to changing consumer needs, or to changes in your business.
I think this statement sums up why innovation is important for everyone quite nicely…
It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones who are most receptive to change.
To survive and thrive you need to stay relevant to changing consumer needs – and boy can those needs change rapidly. This is what new product development is all about.
Picture the NZ food industry in the 70’s and 80’s
In my day there was white bread and cornflakes for breaky, meat and 3-veg for dinner, and that was it. Now look at what is out there – hundreds of cereals and breads, gluten-free, vegan, Asian / Indian foods, dairy-free milks, pre-prepped meals, My Food Bag.
So what was the problem?
Women started working more and were busy, Kiwis had travelled and loved what they ate, we had lots of immigrants and no one liked meat and 3-veg (boiled to death).
Around the same time people started having health and allergy issues from food. Those companies who identified those problems early, imagined ways to solve the problem and swung into action are the ones who are thriving and surviving.
This is a memorable example of consumer needs changing, and new products and services being developed to suit.
What are some of the other important reasons to innovate and develop new products?
Some of the strongest reasons I’ve come across include:
1. Unexpected Events
We all know about this – think of Christchurch after the earthquake. Sam Johnson, the founder of Student Volunteer Army, imagined if could we use the manpower of students we would make life more bearable for our fellow citizens.
He leaped into action and now they are a well-respected charity who help with many community projects around NZ. They continue to innovate and have just launched an app that makes it easy for volunteers to connect with those needing help.
Of course Covid-19 has hugely demonstrated the importance of innovation also. I am sure many of you have had to be innovative with how you delivered your services or products when Covid hit. I was certainly impressed with how business big and small adapted – things like gearing to online shopping, switching to deliver-out, and dreaming up new tourist offerings for kiwis.
2. Competitors New Products/Services
You had better operate under the assumption that your competitors are keeping an eye on changing consumer needs and itching to steel your customers.
Even if your industry is not that competitive or operates with more of a ‘co-opertition’ style, you may still find your customers shifting elsewhere as new offerings take their eye.
If you don’t consider your competition as a potential risk to your existing line of products or services, then they may just pip you to the post.
3. Products/ Services reach the end of their life cycle
When new technology becomes available that solves our problems better, we move on.
Anyone remember Block Buster or Tower records? Netflix, iTunes, Spotify, even TVNZ On Demand came along and solved consumers problems better. No need to faff about visiting the store or returning the video, here’s limitless choice.
Interestingly Netflix approached Blockbuster in 2000 with an offer to buy them – the CEO thought they were too niche so declined. I bet he regrets this today.
👁️ Insider’s tip: Innovation doesn’t have to be externally focused. It can be applied to internal processes to improve efficiencies, productivity, and ultimately profitability. You may have a problem with the cost of waste or a laborious invoicing system or process for handling customer complaints, for example. Ask your team to imagine what if’s. What if we could reduce the cost of waste we send to landfill? Imagine if we could streamline invoicing? You may be surprised at the solutions they can come up with.
4. Innovation can help to improve customer experience
Remember the old days of booking a flight? You had to go into a travel agent and get issued with a ticket. Now you can do it all online, your phone is your ticket and you get sent reminders and updates about your flight, along with cross-selling things like insurance, accommodation, and rental cars.
If you have your customers at the heart of your innovations this will go a long way to ensuring your new product development is a success.
Are you wanting to launch new products or services but are not sure where to start?
Remember that innovation is not just for the big guys. In fact, this is one of the key things we love to help with.
As marketers with both corporate, small and medium business backgrounds spanning heaps of industries, we have experience and the frameworks to help you advance your new product development process.
How do we work?
NPD is an important thing to get right which is why we work with customers using the 8-Gate Innovation circle. This framework helps you to carefully explore each step, in the right order, to ensure your product innovation is a success, or to know when to abandon the idea and rethink, before you spend too much time and money.
Whether it is in a training workshop in person or via Zoom, a bit of mentoring or a more collaborative approach inside your business, at InHouse Marketing we can work your new product development process to suit you.
All it takes is a simple catch up to scope out your needs. We look forward to hearing from you!
Want to know more about our InHouse Marketing support?
Just send us a message on firstname.lastname@example.org and we can have a chat.