Getting the Job Done: The Science Behind Innovation Success

Getting the Job Done: The Science Behind Innovation Success

Innovation is a science, not luck or magic. Successful innovation can often be the key to delivering real incremental dollar growth to a mature category or manufacturer who is trying to compete in a low growth environment – it’s critical to get right and it’s astounding how many get it wrong.

Nielsen’s 2016 Breakthrough Innovation Report – conducted for the first time in Australia – celebrates high achieving brand innovation and highlights critical and actionable lessons for the entire grocery industry. Our research shows that 25% of new products did not stay on the shelf after the first year of launch. And, only 53% of products on grocery shelves were launched in the last five years – indicating the importance of having a healthy innovation pipeline to stay relevant with consumers.

One of the key themes to emerge from our analysis of ‘Breakthrough Winners’ is that these innovations succeed because they solve consumers’ toughest day-to-day challenges and unmet aspirations. It turns out, people don’t so much buy products; they ‘hire’ them to perform jobs in their lives and address circumstances in which they need help to resolve a struggle.

To be a ‘breakthrough innovation’ products need to be distinctive, relevant and enduring, and most importantly, they get the job done!


Understanding consumer pain points sparks great innovation. Breakthrough leaders put consumer demand at the centre of all innovation efforts. Demand-driven insights are used to identify poorly performed jobs. This insight process, referred to as ‘Jobs Theory’, focuses on how to resolve circumstances of struggle, unmet aspirations, and pools of non-consumption.

Take for example, the launch of Old El Paso Stand ‘N Stuff. It’s unique flat-bottomed shaped tacos was designed to address the mess involved in the process of making and eating tacos. Another example is Helga’s Lower Carb Bread – launched to attract consumers who want to enjoy eating bread while managing their carb intake.

Understanding the job reveals why people purchase and use products and services, as well as why they sometimes behave in ways that involve no purchase at all. Innovation initiatives that are organised to resolve well-defined yet poorly performed jobs proceed with purpose and efficiency.

Conversely, initiatives untethered to specific jobs lack meaning and proceed haphazardly, if at all.

We have never had the benefit of better innovation knowledge or better innovation tools than we do today, and we need to put them all to work – right now. Innovation leadership is what is necessary to ensure that today’s flagship brands do not become tomorrow’s ghost ship brands.

Breakthrough innovation takes practice, a focus on the fundamentals, and creativity. It takes attention to detail and a passion for turning great ideas into products that consumers want.


This 2016 Nielsen Breakthrough Innovation Report highlights selected breakthrough innovations and tells the story of how every company can achieve bigger and better innovation success. The report recognises the key ingredients for high achievement, and reveals first-hand insights into how companies are diligent in driving high performance innovation within their organisations.

Download your copy of the report here.