• Stanley posted an update in the group Group logo of Experiential Innovation Experiential Innovation 6 years ago

    While reading through material on customer experience and assessing my own contact with businesses, I came across a puzzling question that requires additional opinion. I may have touched on the topic previously and even provided my viewpoint, but I would like to gather more information on how others feel. Many companies reach a point where their success is virtually ensured by the already devoted customer base and the steady stream of business that they provide. Household brands such as Coca Cola and McDonald’s come to mind when you think of companies that have established the customer pool that I have described. Does it seem to be true, then, that the younger a brand is, the more it has to strive to innovate in order to remain competitive in today’s market? As a second question, does the industry play a significant role in determining whether innovation is necessary? I am thinking of how Apple, as a relatively young brand, has to innovate on a regular basis to not be outpaced by competitors. This can be attributed to its age, but also to the technology sector as a whole. Companies like Microsoft, however, are able to maintain many of the same products and features with slight improvements and still make the sale. I would love to hear what companies the Community has come up with in context to these questions, and I appreciate your opinions and feedback.

    • James replied 6 years ago

      Hey, let’s not forget that when Coke tried to change its formula people freaked out. I’m surprised there weren’t riots in the streets when it happened. That’s what happens when you’re an older brand – people love you and don’t wanna see anything change. It’s like going to your grandma’s house and her making muffins instead of cookies. Maybe it’s still good, but it’s not what you remember so you probably won’t like it. Plus for soda there aren’t new flavors all the time. Maybe with cell phones you’ll see something new because there’s always some sort of new tech, but not with foods. So you’re right, certain industries need to mix it up a bit, but when you’ve been around for a while people want the old reliable, not something fancy and new.

      • I do agree that there are certain products that simply do not require the innovation that other industries may demand, food being one in comparison to technology. Sometimes, innovation does not agree with the consumers, which is why I would think that a dedicated team should be assigned to estimate the overall market reception of the product prior to release. With older brands it is a question as to whether the consumers are dedicated to the brand or the product. For that reason, I see it as a crossroads for moving forward. Do you risk damaging the brand with a product the consumer does not like, or do you risk damaging product sales by introducing new items?

    • I view this from a rather unorthodox standpoint. Age gives you solidarity, but you only ripen to old age through innovation and tenacity. Where would many companies be if they did not capitalize on their success with new innovations? More specifically, would Coke still be successful if they only managed classic Coca Cola and did not come out with any new drinks? Even with a hit product that withstands the test of time, success would not be as strong without capitalizing on it and Coke, while it would have lasted beyond a few years, would not be such a strong brand now. So innovation turns into a key part of any business, though I would agree that a young company in a very saturated market would have to target a niche or innovate greatly to gain attention. That innovation, though, then becomes part of their brand image and must be continued at a consistent pace going forward; innovation is how they gained their following, and it is through innovation that they maintain sales. The industry itself is very heavily weighted by the progress of innovation and the demands of the customer. If you consider medicine it is a very slow, almost stagnant industry because of the regulations barring it. In that case, it is not the amount of innovation compared to the level of success of current projects. If the company has come up with multiple products that fail to match the success of a competitor’s single design, then innovation will have to be the factor that differentiates, and eventually defines, the industry. Had the technology sector been content to utilize the same technology year after year to create the most refined products, then innovation would not be as vital to their success; refinement and perfection of application would be key. However, the industry does not operate in this fashion, so yes, industries play a role in how often a company has to innovate, but I do not believe it was originally necessary for success. This was born out of the inability to counter the competition with a better designed or cheaper product.

      • This may seem unorthodox to you, but it is a very valid point that presents a very realistic understanding of how businesses may be molded by situational factors, in this case their position within a certain industry. I will not interject much because you have clearly covered the topic quite well. What I will say, however, is that while age may allow a company to hold some portion of a market through familiarity, it does not make it immune to the problems that come with a lack of innovation.

    • Dean replied 6 years ago

      I never really thought about this sort of stuff. It always seems like the companies are making new things so they can make more money off of them. New stuff always seems to sell. I like how cars are always getting crazy concepts and new designs since there’s always something you can change or add. So for me, it’s cars like GM and their On Star support, or Mercedes and all of the fancy gadgets. It’s not really anything new, more like having something the others don’t. That’s how I see it. No matter how old the brand is, if someone else is selling something different that you can’t offer then they’re gonna win in the end. So lots of companies try to give out things that no one else does, and that means they’ll create innovative products to do that.

      • This is a very interesting viewpoint and one that I had not considered previously, and it is one because you are considering this with a consumer’s mindset rather than a business one. The remark provides quite a bit of insight into how companies decide to create changes and products since the consumer is always the primary focus of the business. Cars were not an industry I had considered because when I think of innovation I am immediately drawn to the technology and telecommunications industries. You are right – the difference between businesses, even so small as an add-on to a current product, can be the tipping point for a consumer to choose one brand over another.

    • Aaron replied 6 years ago

      I never took you for one to ask questions, but I guess even the “smartest” of us has a thing or two they can learn. You should know that companies innovate because they see the rewards the come with it. Sure, everyone can just sit back and cash in on their cash cows, but the real money is where they can be the only ones in the market. Think about how Under Armor started the compression clothing craze. The guy saw that they could be the only ones in the industry, that industry took off, and everyone else jumped on. Is that innovating just to innovate? Heck no, it was to fit the need and make some cash because no one else was out there doing it. People say companies like Apple and Nike “innovate” but they just improve designs, not start up anything new. That is why they follow the trends – the money is there. It does not matter if they are old or new companies, or if they are in a specific industry. When the customer is willing to pay the money, the companies are willing to pump out products, even if they aren’t all that different from the current ones out there. It is “innovating,” but it isn’t anything new or exciting like true innovation.

      • I do not claim to be the smartest nor do I believe that I have a better understanding of these topics than any of the individuals here. Hence, I come to the Community to gather information and try to share what I do know. Your opinion on this matter is greatly appreciated, Aaron, as you have probably the most business oriented mindset of the regular responders to many of the posts. The idea you present – that companies come up with “new” products to capture available consumer income – is a direct and candid view of why the industries operate. You point out how there is rarely invention of new ideas, and this is very clear in your examples of Nike and Apple. I will say that there are times where a company changes the game, such as when the VHS cassette became the big recording standard, that are borne through innovation, and companies are still striving for this huge change because it harbors the greatest potential profits. This is what the culmination of research and small product changes leads to because the margins shrink as a product lives on, requiring the continuous influx of new products, namely novel ideas, that can spark a revolution of items.

    • Hey hey, look who’s finally asking some questions! 😉 Just teasing you, but I’m glad I popped my head in here. I would have missed throwing in my two cents (two cents is a discount, because my advice is so valuable it might as well cost a nickel!) Well, you’ve got to remember just how valuable a brand can be since that’ll definitely affect whether you need to come up with new stuff. Saying, “Hey, Sony came out with the next TV killer!” sounds a lot more appealing than saying, “Did you hear that Random TV Co. has a new product to replace the TV?” 😀 When you’ve been around the block before people tend to know your name and listen to it, so their innovation sticks alot more than the next guy’s. I don’t even think industry matters at that point since the name is what people remember. I’m thinking about Microsoft, the Windows company, not Microsoft, the technology company. The older you are, the better your name, the more your new things will make waves in the market. But hey, I’m just a guy thinking about how it all MAYBE works! No expert here, but it’s a good guess if I say so myself 🙂

      • You have a very valid point in stating that companies are known for their branded products rather than their actual industry affiliation. A simple case that would describe this phenomena is how Hitachi is commonly known for their production of televisions, yet they are a large player in the construction machinery industry. While it may be considered a disconnect between the company and the consumer, it is probably more closely tied to the fact that certain products garner more consumer exposure, therefore leaving a more memorable impression as a whole. This is very valuable considering how companies brand themselves across a whole host of products, yet find most of their popularity stemming from a particular industry or product line. I believe that favorable conceptions about a company due to a single product may translate into an overall more favorable view of the company as a whole.