Friday, April 13, 2018

Innovation: What Problem Are You Trying to Solve?

Innovators and entrepreneurs need to ask themselves: What problem are we trying to solve?  Seems simple, right?  Yet, in all too many cases, companies simply build new products and services in search of new revenue growth without clarity on this question.   Let's take one current example that puzzles me.  Fast Company reports today on a new Twitter poll launched by Heinz:

On Wednesday, Heinz announced potential plans to bring “mayochup” into the world. It’s half ketchup, half mayonnaise, and if you ask some people, 100% wrong. The food-processing company announced Thursday it’s contemplating selling the new product, provided it garners enough interest. It launched a public poll on Twitter, asking Americans to make the hard decision for them: “Want #mayochup in stores? 500,000 votes for yes and we’ll release it to you saucy Americans.”

What problem is this new product trying to solve?  Are we so lazy that we need to buy pre-mixed condiments for our burgers?   Perhaps.   Maybe their consumer research has identified a real customer need here.  If so, I'd be curious to hear what they have discovered. 

Regardless of this particular innovation's success or failure, this story reminds us to keep asking the question:  What customer pain point are we alleviating, and what need are we fulfilling?  Growth will come if we solve real problems for our customers.  If not, we risk spending on innovations that fall flat in the marketplace. 


Harris said...

I would be interested to know how their process has changed from when they tried (and failed) to introduce colored ketchup in 2000.

Lack of innovation in the ketchup market even attracted Gladwell's pen in 2004:

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