In the context of the London Food and Drink Conference 2019, we all had our innovation pipelines in mind. What’s the next big thing? Where will the growth come from?

But I noticed in some instances innovation was referred to in different ways. We talked about commercial failures that were fun to tell and remember. We heard some examples that might not be something to learn from, but were highly audience-engaging.

And that’s a new role innovation is here to play. Because in today’s saturated media world, innovation can become a new pretext to make noise in the market and help reach other objectives.

Here are a few examples:

  • Innovation as a pretext to establish new trends or consumption occasions: At the conference, Richard Maryniak from Black Swan Data used the Matcha trend over time data to demonstrate how matcha lattes and other drinks created by coffeeshops for Saint-Patrick’s Day had a huge boost for wider adoption of Matcha
  • Innovation as a pretext to support your brand purpose: Ben & Jerry’s are a pioneer in championing causes; their ‘ImPeachMint’ ice cream made for President Trump was only a mock-up, but made a lot of noise
  • Innovation as a pretext to build your brand awareness and perceptions: on stage in London, Dougie Hastings from Prezzo admitted the huge failure of Black Pizzas from a commercial standpoint, but how much press they got from it. Which reminded me of Heinz Caviar, too…

More brands do that. Coke just announced the relaunch of historical fail ‘New Coke’ as an event to honour Stranger Things.

It’s good to innovate, but use is it if no one knows about it? The way consumers engage with content has evolved dramatically, they are tired of lengthy pitches based on shallow insights. In such saturated world, there’s a new role for incremental innovation: it’s not innovation to sell, it’s innovation to talk about.

BY ENGINEER Emeline Mettavant

Emeline.Mettavant@thevalueengineers.com