The mass-market approach that produced hit after hit in the 1960s through the 1980s no longer works in the age of digital connections and niche consumer groups, says GameChanger’s Larry Popelka
Consumer product innovation ain’t what it used to be – and it demands an entirely new mindset in today’s plugged in, hyper-informed consumer world.
That’s the call to arms being issued today by GameChanger, www.gamechanger.net, in its Consumer Product Innovation Manifesto, a credo telling consumer marketers to throw off the chains that yoked them to a new product development process that took months or years to deliver.
Urging marketers to put a turbocharger inside their companies, Larry Popelka, founder and CEO of GameChanger, a company that helps consumer firms bring an entrepreneurial approach to innovation, says the new innovation mantra is: “Get into market fast on a small scale, learning and adjusting as you go.”
GameChanger recently conducted in-depth research of consumer product innovation over the past 40 years, and found that in the 1970s and 1980s, the majority of breakthrough brand innovation came from the big CPG companies. Since then, they found, the script has flipped, and smaller companies have gained the innovation edge because of their flexibility, speed, passion, in-the-trenches consumer savvy and willingness to take risks – all hallmarks of success today, according to the Manifesto.
“Consumer products companies that can break the mold of yesterday’s stodgy, mass-market innovation strategy and bring a new approach for a new era will be the ones that consistently develop, design and sell products that have a ready-made market right out of the gate,” said Popelka, who himself helped launch Green Works, a $200 million brand platform for Clorox. “More often than not, they’ll hit the bulls-eye in terms of meeting needs and desires and igniting consumer excitement that can go viral.”
Saying it’s the most exciting time to be involved in consumer product innovation, GameChanger’s Manifesto rewrites the old “5 Ps” of traditional marketing:
• Purpose: Create a higher level, greater-good mission.
• Passion: Be passionate about the brand yourself, and create “fanatics,” an army of loyal brand evangelists.
• Personality: Give your brand a reason for people to create a buzz about it. Your brand needs an “attitude.”
• Precision: Target the fanatics and forget the mass market. It’s gotten much more difficult and costly to talk to the masses but much easier to reach narrow, niche audiences. The fanatics are usually less than 1% of the population; focus on them and create a cadre of loyal brand evangelists.
• Pace: Get into market fast on a small scale, learning and adjusting as you go. Forget months-long development cycles, think instead in terms of weeks.
“Think over the past 20 years – how many truly innovative, out-of-the park brands have come from major CPG companies?” said Popelka. “Unlike the days of iconic big-hit brands like Miller Lite and Mountain Dew, today’s consumer innovations are coming from smaller, more nimble companies. The GameChanger Manifesto makes it an imperative for both large and small companies to embrace a new, more flexible, risk-taking mindset.”
To read more about the “GameChanger Manifesto,” click here.
GameChanger helps consumer goods companies create breakthrough innovation by bringing a fresh, entrepreneurial approach to the traditional new product development process. With a team of accomplished entrepreneurs, GameChanger provides an end-to-end innovation solution, so products are market-ready in weeks, not months or years. New products are tested in real-world situations with actual consumers, ensuring they deliver the right experience and meet the needs of buyers. GameChanger’s unique methodology combines a high degree of flexibility, efficiency and speed, to bypass many of the traditional corporate obstacles. For more information, please visit www.gamechanger.net.