Arun Prabhu, global category director at Arla Foods, spoke to Happen on creating innovations that succeed in the market.
Early in my innovation career, I received some valuable advice from my manager, that I carry with me even today: “Make sure you deliver something tangible.” There are plenty of people who have great reputations for ideas, he said, but sadly, they don’t always follow through with the results.
In many big (and perhaps, small) businesses, innovation and innovators are seen as synonymous with creativity. And while the two things are certainly linked, for me, there are clear distinctions. Creativity is thinking newness. Innovation is doing newness. But it takes more than wacky ideas and fancy presentations to channel creativity into commercially successful innovations. It takes intuition, it takes courage, and it takes conviction.
The place to start is with identifying consumer frustrations. This rarely manifests in focus groups, market data reports and consumer U&A studies. While these can be valuable sources to understand ‘what’ is going on, in order to understand ‘why’, you need to be able to connect seemingly unrelated pieces of information and identify consumers’ deeper level motivations. More often than not, these are needs that consumers have not identified themselves. Case in point: the mobile phone. And if you were to ‘concept test’ these, chances are they won’t survive.
When I first moved to Denmark from the UK, I noticed a couple of things. Firstly, a third of the fresh milk market is organic. However, in the infant nutrition section, all the formula products on offer were non-organic. I joined these pieces of information with my own anecdotal evidence of seeing young couples greatly increase their consumption of organic food when becoming parents for the first time. And finally, I was witness to my wife’s own behaviour as a first-time mother. Intuitively I knew there was huge potential to be unlocked. The result was Arla Baby&Me Organic, which has grown to 20% market share in Denmark in three years and is also now available in Finland and China.