You’ve heard the mantra. Businesses that fail to innovate, soon die. When it comes to innovation, it’s not a matter of simply churning out something new, but as Scott Anthony explains in The Little Black Book of Innovation, innovation is achieved when a business offers something different, that creates value for its customers.
In order to create value a business needs to get into the minds of its consumers and identify an important, unmet need. If we relate this to health and nutrition, innovation involves identifying a nutrition problem that has yet to be solved. From my experience, this is rarely the approach food companies take. Rather it seems, that companies latch on to the latest trend and craft new products that look much like others in the category – the “me too” approach.
An alternative approach to nutrition-related innovation
Another approach to nutrition-related innovation, is to take a problem-based perspective, to generate new ideas. This encourages food businesses to think about a nutrition problem that exists, determine who has the problem and why the problem remains. By delving into the problem and understanding it deeply, companies are much better placed to consider a range of possible solutions (ideas) rather than jump to the most obvious solution, one that inevitably ends up being more or less the same as everything else. It forces companies to look beyond the obvious, and come up with ideas that are novel and more likely to create real value.
Generate lots of possible solutions
Scott Anthony also stresses the merit in generating a list of possible solution ideas during the innovation process, not just one or two. It might be that the solution ideas are not product-related at all and could be based on other forms of innovation. He also encourages businesses to look to a variety of sources for inspiring ideas. This includes looking at other industries, thinking about who else has solved a similar problem, how they did it and whether or not it could be applied to the problem at hand.
Get feedback from your target market
Getting out of the office and mingling with your target consumer is another of Anthony’s imperatives. It is easy to become infatuated with your product concept and assume others will feel the same way. Drawing up a model of the concept and getting feedback from potential customers will challenge pre-held assumptions, and help shape a proposition into something that will create real value.
Finding a nutrition problem to solve
There are a number of potential sources to help you find a nutrition problem to solve with news media and health magazines featuring the most obvious ones. If you want to unearth something a little more obscure, then speak with a dietitian – they deal with nutrition problems all the time. Keeping up with developments in nutrition science is another avenue, as is delving into government policies on nutrition, with the latter being particularly useful for uncovering potential opportunities in international markets.