Marketers are constantly on the look-out for avenues that can drive exponential business growth and lead to success in the marketplace. Innovation, rather the creation of breakthrough innovation, may well be that winning formula.

Business leaders typically hold back innovation efforts because 58% marketers say that new launches today contribute less to sales than before. However, this statistic is flawed by incorrect methods of assessment. For one, Adrian Terron, Senior Vice President, Nielsen India, explains, “most ‘innovations’ are ‘deemed innovations’ because they are merely product upgrades rather than genuine innovation; statistically, as much as one third of all Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) launches are triggered by product upgrades. True innovation involves creating a breakthrough offering even before consumers articulate or realise that they want it”. Second, more than half of India’s marketers evaluate innovation success too fast, sometimes within a twelve month time-frame. Lastly, sustainable and profitable innovation needs a long term outlook, and as much as 80% marketers focus on near term priorities.

Over a billion dollars each year, or over 6000 crore rupees, is put at risk of not being a breakthrough innovation. So far the focus has been on making a great innovation successful in the market. Our newly rationalised thinking now puts great emphasis on the creation of a great Innovation as a necessary first step. Adrian adds, “As conscious innovators ourselves, our re-evaluated thinking is that you need to make a great innovation successful only once you have a great innovation in the first place. What we have in place now is a plan to create a great innovation, including what the intrinsic characteristics of a great innovation in the Indian marketplace ought to be, even before you decide to launch it. The task therefore is a two-legged one; not only does a marketer need to make innovation successful using our established equation, but she also needs to create a successful innovation.”  

The key to creating a watertight process to conceive, create and deliver successful innovation, is answering the four questions below.

  1. What constrains Indian businesses from creating great innovation?
  2. How do successful innovations differ from unsuccessful ones?
  3. How do successful innovations differentiate themselves even amongst other successful innovations? 
  4. What do consumers deem to be a successful innovation?

The answers enabled the creation of a framework for marketers to follow. The thumb rules to create great innovations are:

  • Allocating sufficient budgets to experiments, and core research and development.
  • Involve retailers and partners in the ideation process with a conscious move from ‘haggling to handshakes’.
  • Dedicate time and resources to the early stage of innovation with a formal process for shortlisting.
  • However, simultaneously get to market with the entire range faster. Here it is essential to exercise restraint and resist that temptation to discount early.
  • Finally, use all the insights gathered to identify winning characteristics that can be grafted into the innovation pipeline.

With a stage wise action plan in place, it should now be possible to overcome the innovation dilemma and turn it into an imperative for growth.