Geometry UK’s Captivate fires up innovation factors fuelling growth

“The pace of change we are experiencing now, is the slowest it will ever be,” Rory Sutherland has recently remarked.

And we agree. In our world of unprecedented change, most leaders see successful innovation as the fuel for sustainable growth.

Our view is that explosive category growth is driven by meaningful innovation – innovation that creates business value by being laser focused on meeting a consumer need.

Hosting our latest Captivate event, we challenged our audience to define the role of innovation as a growth driver. Does it come from product development or new routes to market alone? Should brands deliver innovative thinking across their whole business?

We invited three leaders of innovation to lead the conversation: Sid Baveja, UK New Initiatives Director at Just Eat, leading global marketplace for online food delivery, part of the FTSE 100 index; Mathias Kewsani, CEO Nerdindustries, innovation company creating tech prototypes to innovative sales models; and Darren Burdock-Latter, Head of Innovation, Geometry UK, driver of category growth initiatives for Coca-Cola, Unilever & GSK among others.

The 90-minute Captivate uncovered three considerations for harnessing innovation:

The answers lie in micro-trends

Sid Baveja at Just Eat observed, “We look for and explore emerging micro-behaviours, we design solutions that serve those needs, we develop working prototypes and test them, quickly." He pointed to veganism – from fringe movement to mainstream. Nerdindustries’ Mathias Kewsan spotlighted Dr Dre’s Beats – a marketing rather than tech innovation. Beats recognised a micro-trend in personal expression through accessories and went on to dominate the market with colourful headphones, forcing category heavyweights like Sennheiser to disrupt their business models to defend market share.

Get comfortable with risk

“I would rather test and fail 100 times than scale stupidity,” Sid commented. Just Eat technology serves 19 million customers with 75,400 restaurant partners worldwide and an innovation strategy to test new initiatives in side channels rather than main channels. Learnings are maximised. Risk is minimised.  

The panel argued for a new metric for success measure: benchmark KPIs on learning as well as accomplishment. Greater growth comes from initiatives honed through trial and error rather than immediate (but probably lower value) success.

Taking the argument, a step further, Sid Baveja said, “To be commercially responsible, innovation needs to feed into overall business-as-usual KPIs and not be random. There is no R&D reporting line on Just Eat’s financial statements because it is successfully delivered as a core part of achieving the business’s strategic goals”.

Your market may not be there, yet…

“What will your business and your customers look like in 20 years’ time?” 

Nespresso was developed in the 1970s, yet it took the best part of three decades before consumer behaviour and demand became present.  “The temptation to play safe in order not to cannibalise your existing business means you risk stifling innovation. Nespresso is a great example of a big company [Nestlé] perfectly managing that fine balance” said Darren.

Our CEO Michelle Whelan concluded, “Innovation is absolutely critical to channel growth, to category growth, to business growth. We must change and disrupt. Take a risk, embrace failure. If we don’t, it’s the end of the future for every organisation.”

Please click here to view the conversation in full.


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