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Top 5 Product Innovation Mistakes to Avoid

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Euromonitor International Bio

Today’s business environment requires faster and better innovation to sustain growth and your competitive edge. But executing at speed to bring creative ideas to life is no simple feat.  

That’s why you and your team must have a sound and proven process to bring new products to market successfully, which will ultimately help your brand remain relevant and stay ahead of the pack. 

Over the past two decades, we’ve partnered with startups, SMEs and some of the largest legacy brands to design bespoke innovation solutions and support strategic development. We’ve seen what works—and what doesn’t—and have helped teams overcome innovation challenges that you’ve likely encountered.  

Here are the five biggest mistakes companies make when developing innovation strategies or new products.

1. Not investing enough up front

Businesses often have rigid processes and timelines. But strict procedures and deadlines can cause teams to skip or limit the time spent on the critical first stage of new product developmentexploring and understanding the real issues consumers need solved 

Flexibility will help you flourish. You need to put in the time and effort during this first step to really identify true consumer and customer needs for tomorrow. After all, how can you successfully innovate without knowing the pain points your product will tackle?  

2. Sticking too close to home

Don’t get stuck in your sector. Searching for opportunities only in your current industry or market means you’re failing to factor in the fast-paced evolution of the wider FMCG world where new usage occasions and blurred category lines are the norm.  

Take a broader approach. Look across global, socioeconomic and demographic trends as well as ancillary industry movements. You can apply these developments to inspire innovation. Plus, this wider view will help you spot patterns and draw parallels that can lead to disruption. 

3. Being too conceptual 

It goes without saying: thinking outside the box is essential to develop big ideas. But where companies can fall short is in a vital next step—taking a broad concept like a megatrend and assessing the full breadth of tangible actions. 

Assess the impact of longer-term, cross-industry trends. Then, determine how these apply to your business and how you can respond. Your team will achieve a deeper level of ideation and develop resilient solutions in line with lasting behavioural changes.

4. Focusing on solutions but not solving the issue

Innovators often rush in with ideas to solve an identified need before truly conceptualising the extent of possible solutions.  

Yes, speed is important. But the right product will reap more rewards than the wrong one that was developed too hastily. There are several variables—format, packaging, delivery method, formulation, design; the list goes on—that will dictate successful adoption.  

Take time to understand the real problem. Delve deeper to uncover the root cause of the issue, map out multiple ways to solve it and select the option that will deliver the most value.

5. Getting stuck at the finish line

Companies get fixated on perfecting a product launch over getting timing right. And this results in missing first-mover advantages or opportunities. You may have the best product that initially flops due to a poorly planned go-to-market strategy. 

Create and facilitate a culture of innovation agility throughout the business. At the same time, product marketing cannot be an afterthought. You should focus on a consumer-centric story that touts benefits over features. 

Innovation requires dedicated resources, time and commitment. And the best ideas draw inspiration from several creative perspectives. If you want to nail your approach, take the necessary steps to avoid these five mistakes and work with the right partners.

We’ve supported companies like yourself along the innovation process. And we can help you achieve the same success. Get in touch with our experts to guide your efforts, from opportunity identification through market entry.     

Editor's note: This article was originally published in September 2016 and has been updated. 

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