Sunday, June 12, 2011

Innovation In Practice

There is a new product in stores now which I saw an ad for the other day. It's interesting to me because it is a clever innovation that reminds me of my favorite class from my graduate program in Marketing.

In our course on innovation as a teachable/learned skill rather than a gift you are born with (or not), we used a systematic process with which to innovate. There are five methods. This particular innovation, I believe, uses the method entitled "Task Unification". The steps are as follows:

1. List the components of the Product or Service
2. Assign an additional task to one component
3. Visualize the resulting product
4. Identify potential market or customer needs
5. Modify the concept to improve it

The product is microwave popcorn by Orville Redenbacher. The innovation is the Pop-Up Bowl. Popcorn is microwaved in a bag. Once popped, the popcorn is (usually) transferred into a bowl to eat. By assigning the bag the additional task of becoming an easy to eat out of bowl, the Redenbacher company is meeting an additional customer need. The user no longer has to find a bowl - one big enough to fit the popcorn, or have another dish to wash later. This isn't a mind-blowing, life-changing innovation to be sure, but it is a clever way to bring something new to the category and stand out from the competition.