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NPD Food Conference 2014.......How do you go about innovating?

by Claire Martinsen on Tue 15th Jul 2014 03:18

NPD direct 2The first session at the NPD conference last week was led by Robert Kedzlie of NPD Direct who spoke all about the actual innovation process.  Robert gave a great overview to innovation, some insight into how top brands and top retailers innovate and some pointers about how to innovate on a lower budget.

npd direct Robert KedzlieHere’s some of my take-outs from the many wise words he spoke!

  1. NPD is easy…..if you have no restraint on either cost of processing[!]..managing those elements is what makes it harder.
  2. NPD might be required to:  add range extensions [eg new flavours], drive cost out or to add value [eg meat/flavoured butters]
  3. The innovation process should be a balance of bringing together consumer insight with making capability.
  4. Know the difference between a fad and a trend…you want to follow trends, but fads are likely to be a short burst of interest and probably not worth investing in for the long term.  Cronuts will probably prove to be a fad in the long term, whereas Quinoa is a long term food trend that is being moved into the mainstream.
  5. Look for customer insights – in a big business this is likely to be via external data and primary research, but Robert also emphasised that this can also be done in a small business environment via tools such as: observation, monitoring the media for trends [both paper and digital sources], asking industry experts and utilising internal resource.
  6. Always consider costs before and during your innovation process.  There is no point going a long way down the innovation process and then deciding that you can’t make it commercially.  Depending on your sector you should know what % costs are attributed to ingredients/labour/packaging etc and you need to work to these from the start.
  7. Look at Food Trends when you innovate……San Francisco is a great place to go for inspiration, as its such a fantastic hub for fusion cooking. Eg Italy is a great place for traditional italian food, but the USA will have fusion/modern Italian.
  8. Structure your range development and innovation – Robert showed a great matrix format he uses with his clients NPD Direct, and it showed how worth while it is considering all elements of what and how you are trying to innovate before you actually do anything.

I loved  the fact that Robert spoke about putting a structure around innovation, and he made some great points [far more than outlined here!].  Great session that set the conference up well….and some good pointers for me here at Breckland Orchard

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