Innovation need not be radical but it must meet a real need

Laura Morris

Incremental innovation has received its fair share of bad press. FMCG firms have highlighted its drawbacks by pushing out me-too products such as line extensions or limited editions of brands, which have added little value to consumers in categories already abundant with choice. Often, such 'innovations' have delivered a short-term spike in consumer interest and sales but no sustainable long-term payback (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Innovation with short-term gain

There is also a danger of damaging brand equity. KitKat, for example, lost its way a few years ago with the introduction of many new flavour variations.