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Can You Predict Successful Innovation? You Bet You Can
Categories: Innovation

Ad Age’s CMO Strategies analyzes hits + says they’re not luck or creative genius. Excerpts below. Full post at

I want to know: What predictors do you see for great innovation?

“Popular opinion suggests that great innovation results from a mysterious combination of forces that make it appear to fall from the sky. Whether divine intervention, the harnessing of creative genius or luck, to many, innovation seems to surface at random moments and emerge from circumstances that cannot be reproduced or understood. However, based on a 30-year analysis of 300 product categories covering 225 countries, it becomes clear this perception is false: Tomorrow’s winning innovation can actually be predicted.

…Great innovation builds on what comes before it and does not require people to make radical changes in beliefs or behavior. What often looks like breakthrough innovation is actually a small advance or twist on an established idea. That the change is evolutionary, however, doesn’t keep its impact from being revolutionary. Monitoring market evolution across the globe over time reveals patterns consistent across categories and markets. Consumer needs evolve in predictable ways. There are waves of successful mass-market innovation that mirror a natural evolution in consumer needs.

…For example, Crest Whitestrips in many ways appeared to come out of the blue about 10 years ago. But an analysis of innovation patterns prior to its introduction suggests the occurrence of numerous previous products with similar approaches or delivery systems (for example, nicotine and estrogen patches, breath strips), all paving the way for Whitestrips’ success. Whitestrips succeeded in the mass market by building on past news and combining it in an inventive way at the right time, addressing a natural evolution of oral-care needs.”

Posted by Kathy Sandler on Sunday, November 29, 2009 at 10:08 PM

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