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Learning from the Big Guys

Consumer goods leaders from around the country participated in the annual Growth & Innovation Forum hosted by research firm Consumer Good Technology. A lot can be learned from what executives shared about the innovative actions their companies take to unlock consumer insight.

I’ll first start with saying that success in the consumer-goods market is very much dependent on understanding what consumers want and need, preferably before they even know. As Steve Jobs once said in regards to Apple’s best-seller, the iPhone: “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Therefore, consumer-goods companies, small or large, have to constantly have their fingers on the market’s pulse to analyze and understand trends before they become known to consumers and competitors. Here are two examples of how the biggest “big guys” in the global Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) landscape face this challenge.

P&G: Even though one of P&G’s values is partnership, through the years the company has adopted a closed-door approach. This “if we need it, we can invent it” mentality has interfered with P&G’s flexibly and responsiveness to the market. Today, P&G’s leaders realize that this approach is stopping them from moving forward. Hence, they decided to open their doors to open innovation. They understood, just like we preach here often, that creating partnerships and sharing knowledge (even if no revenue-generating product is produced by it) is priceless. They take pride in the fact that “more than half of new product initiatives at Procter and Gamble involve significant collaboration with those outside our walls.” Moreover, in a dedicated website, they invite potential partners to write them and share ideas and thoughts about new and current products.

Kraft: Kraft Foods collaborated with Intel to create an adult-only tasting experience for its “Temptations by Jell-O” brand. They developed the DijiTaste Sampling Experience, an interactive station that uses mobile technology to distribute samples of Temptations by Jell-O deserts solely to adults who stand in front of the vending machine. According to Kraft, this collaboration allowed it to turn “what if?” to “what is”—to turn aspiration into a reality.

The bottom line here is that as more and more people are constantly using mobile technology, top companies use it to connect their brands with consumers while they are on the go. An even more obvious conclusion is that the means have changed, but the goal remains the same: Then and now, companies’ ultimate goal should be creating superior experience for customers who decide to give the company’s products a chance.

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