Innovating for Growth in an Economic Downturn
by Ideas First
Innovating in an economic downturn can be tough. With sales under pressure and budgets tight, it can be all too easy for marketing teams to forgo any thoughts of future innovation activity. Minds can become overly focused on simply hitting short term sales targets or looking at ways of cutting budgets so that short term profit targets are met.
Listed below are five cost-effective ways of “innovating for growth” in an economic downturn, when research and travel budgets are especially limited.
1. Revisit old consumer data with “fresh eyes” for new insights that can be used to drive growth.
In good times or bad, ensure that marketing and innovation activities are truly focused on relevant and compelling consumer and shopper insights. With limited research budgets, it is important that you take time with your wider marketing team to refine and select the insights that have greatest potential to drive growth in a tighter economic climate. This exercise does not have to involve an extensive or costly new research program. In our experience, most companies are sitting on mountains of consumer data; internal teams simply need to approach this information with "fresh eyes" to identify the insights that could have greater potential. However, in doing this work, it is important that teams have a clear understanding of what a good consumer insight is and the potential opportunity areas for growth. An insights training workshop could be a good investment to support this work, and, to supplement past consumer learnings, you could carry out some low level consumer closeness activities e.g. informal interviews; shopper observations etc. It might also be a good idea to use virtual tools to share and agree key insights with colleagues in other countries in a fast and low cost way e.g. the Insights virtualHOTHOUSE® process.
2. Take time to develop compelling new claims for existing products or services.
With insights agreed, revisit the way you are communicating the benefits of current products and services. Changing the way you talk about your products can have a big impact on sales without the need for any product development work. Brainstorm and evaluate potential new claims and promises that could be more compelling to your customers versus competitive products. However, make sure you understand what the factors of a winning claim are. For inspiration, take a look at examples from other relevant categories. In our experience, a winning claim is a one memorable promise that you can make about the benefits of your product that is compelling, different and relevant to your target consumer. Winning claims tend to be short, insightful, motivating, credible and “ownable” to your brand. And, with media costs relatively low, a downturn maybe the best time to drive growth with a claims-driven advertising campaign that will blow away the competition. For further advice, give us a call about our Claimstorming Hothouse® process or about our on-line process called the Claimstorming virtualHOTHOUSE®.
3. Work harder with your retail partners to drive innovation at an in-store category level.
Over the past 10 years, Ideas First have run over 40 innovation partnership projects between leading retailers and their key suppliers, including companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Cadbury, Tesco, Carrefour, Boots and Wal-Mart. Simply put, these projects bring together cross-functional teams for 2-3 days to generate ideas and agree concrete action plans that can transform innovation and growth at a category level in a way that is of mutual benefit to both partners. This approach is particularly relevant in an economic downturn and moves joint planning away from endless debates about pricing and margins. Take a look at the article on the Ideas First website for more ideas and advice about this approach.
4. Maximise the creative powers of larger teams to come up with the best growth ideas.
Don’t try and solve the problems of growth in small teams. Work with colleagues in other regions and countries, to generate, refine and evaluate the ideas that will have greatest potential for wider growth. This approach is one of the winning philosophies captured in Karl Albrecht’s “The Power of Minds at Work”, in which he demonstrates that many minds can be better at solving a problem than a few. However, to facilitate this approach in a low cost way, try using virtual on-line tools so that people can share and evaluate ideas without the need for expensive flights or hotel bills.
5. Don’t forget your pipeline of new product ideas for when the good times return.
Recessions don’t last forever and successful companies have a continuous pipeline of new products and services to either drive growth or simply to maintain current market share. This requires a progressive attitude in developing and testing product ideas in line with current needs and future trends. Although budgets maybe limited, it is smart to get people together to plan for the future using a structured idea generation and evaluation process. Take a look at our Ideas Hothouse™ process that is run over 2-3 days or by using our on-line virtualHOTHOUSE® tool.
Other content shared by Ideas First
by Ideas First
Insights, or consumer insights, are critical to the innovation process. They are statements that capture a clear and deep understanding of a consumer's attitudes and emotions, and they are one of the key building blocks for a company to generate ideas for new products or new services. Read Article »
by Michael Simpson, Managing Partner, Ideas First
This article focuses on the future of insight and idea generation, the starting point of the innovation process, and provides three observations of how “smart companies” will generate and identify winning insights and ideas in the future, in a context of a much tougher economic and environmental climate. Read Article »
by Ideas First
Top tips for creating winning ideas, including sources for inspiration and strategic thinking suggestions. Read Article »
by Ideas First
Do online methods for generating innovative ideas really work? What tactics can a company employ to ensure that employees become fully engaged in an online innovation process? Read Article »
by Ideas First
Many factors will impact the success of failure of an innovation project, however, one of the most important drivers of success is to ensure that a project has “a clear creative focus” to guide the overall process and to help inspire the development of winning ideas and concepts. The attached article provides direction in defining winning Innovation Objectives and Innovation Pillars. Read Article »