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Planet in panic; who dares to turn the tide of innovation?

The new iPhone is coming. By the way, there's also a new vacuum cleaner on the way, a new electric shaver, a new iron, a new mop, a new garden hose, a new trash can, a new... fill in the blank. Every time again. Year in, year out.

Product portfolios are bewildering; a labyrinth of 'spot the differences'. Consumers are getting confused. The planet is in panic. Time to pause and think about this for a moment.

Innovating for the sake of innovating Developing new propositions remains one of the top priorities for companies - in good and bad economic times. Staying relevant to the target audience is often the motto, but companies also want to offer retailers something new to stay in the spotlight and continue to claim sufficient shelf space. Can this still work in this day and age?

Employees within companies who deliver a multitude of new propositions each year often express criticism quietly in the hallways: 'Here we go again'. Isn't it a bit old-fashioned to think that we must follow the company's 'reflex' to launch new products every season, every year, or every two years?

What's new? Don't get me wrong, I love new things, but the credibility of the added value of many of these 'new' market introductions has somewhat faded by 2022. What if companies became stricter with themselves before a product hits the market? For instance, making it a requirement that performance must improve by at least 25%, such as being 25% more efficient, faster, softer, harder, longer-lasting, etc. An additional requirement should be that at least 50% of the target audience perceives the improvement as genuinely valuable. Additionally, new consumer products should be 100% recyclable, produced in a carbon-neutral manner, and use 50% less packaging.

Planting the first seed

Taking a more critical look at their products and services is a challenge for all companies, but who dares to change the tide of innovation and where to start? The answer is simple!

To get your company thinking about the content of the product portfolio, the first step is to pay attention to the products, so innovation, portfolio, product, and category directors:

  • Gather your team.

  • Lay out all your current products from the same series.

  • Note the target audience for each of the individual products.

  • Note the (potential) value the product provides to the user: What does owning this product deliver? What does using this product deliver? What's the benefit for the consumer?

  • Examine the overlap and differences between the SKUs. Draw conclusions.

  • Do the same for your innovation roadmap and compare it with the products you already have.

  • Draw the final conclusion: which products truly add value for the consumer, the company, and the planet?

  • What do you do with the other products? What can you do with them? Small adjustments can make big differences - think of replaceable parts. Or just get rid of them!

Marjolein van Ballegooij

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