Variety of senses: Simple innovations, risky innovations...
Xavier Terlet (XTC world innovation), 02/2014
Thirty-one percent! Again this year, XTC’s “variety of senses” trend hit a record high, accounting for 31% of innovations launched around the globe.
Is this a case of food manufacturers responding to consumer needs by launching an endless stream of new aromas, flavours and varieties?
It’s highly doubtful. A more likely explanation for the explosion is manufacturers’ insecurity in the face of today’s sagging economy: they’re limiting their investments and avoiding risk at all costs.
It just so happens that making a new wasabi-flavoured potato chip to complement or replace an existing curry-flavoured potato chip calls for little or no investment on the manufacturer’s part.
This false product range strategy isn’t fooling anyone. The problem is that this kind of extreme prudence can actually cost a business in the long run.
Half of innovations fail precisely because they fall short of meeting real consumer needs. These are the pseudo-novelties that disappear from shelves as fast as they appear because no one buys them, or at least not twice.
As consumers’ purchasing power continues to weaken, new and very real needs will remain to be met in areas including pleasure and health and all things natural and practical. However, to meet those needs, manufacturers will have to roll out a true innovation policy that keeps methodology and strategy to a minimum. Although the required investment is minimal, it is nevertheless indispensable, even for the small businesses that make up the bulk of food manufacturers. After all, such an investment is much less costly than a series of failures.