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Webinar Recap: Agile Innovation Within Big CPG

30,000 new products are launched every year and 90% of them fail. Some fail publicly with everyone watching, others fail on a smaller stage but with the same amount of pain.

How does big CPG navigate this harsh reality and launch successful products at scale? Recently, Highlight’s Head of Client Success, Keshia Peris, explored lessons learned in this area with thought leaders Barbara Schandl, of Mondeléz Snackfutures, and Elliot Roazen, of Unilever’s Beauty and Personal Care Portfolio.


This webinar was made possible with the help of Insights Association.

We’d love to Highlight a few of the moments in the chat below but for all of the in-depth information these innovation experts share, make sure to check out the webinar recording above!

Keshia:

What initially drew you into this type of agile team within your organization versus working directly in marketing, directly in product or directly in a strategy team?

Barbara:

The attraction in joining such a team is that in marketing or consumer sides, you work in product units and if it's quite a large organization and is often quite siloed. This team is a fully cross functional team. It's a small team, but it's a cross functional one. So we work together and we have also extended arms in the organization when it comes to product development and when it comes to also understanding trends. Meaning, understanding and bringing in the external perspective as well. Working in SnackFutures has really opened a whole lot of other dimensions to really bring in this outside perspective. 

Elliot:

I’ve taken a lot of the growth marketing experience I've had and migrated to innovation. Half of that was intentional in that I wanted to experiment with using a lot of direct to consumer marketing tactics and channels and reverse engineer them into consumer research methodology. You could look at Facebook and Facebook advertising as the world's greatest conversion funnel, or you could use it as the largest, fastest, most efficient consumer research pool. I took a lot of what I knew from channel marketing and just applied it to validating new business models.

Barbara:

What Eliot said, this testing and learning mentality. It's not just about a 12345 innovation research process like what we used to do in the past. I'm not saying that's actually something bad but now it allows a little bit more flexibility, it’s multi-dimensional. What I like and something I apply a lot is asking myself this question when we are working on a particular project or brand, is what do we need to learn in order to move on?

It's really about learning and also appreciating progress over perfection.

Keshia:

My next question is around the breadth and the depth of what you're managing on a day to day basis. I mean, we're talking about big bets, new ideas, go/no-go decisions, and then also very tactical depths in order to actually create a brand launch product. Talk to us a little bit about how you are managing on a day to day basis?

Barbara:

Sometimes agility is only connected with fast but it is also to be very curious and collaborative. Sometimes in organizations, we tend to forget the consumer, I mean, we are very consumer centric as an organization but I would say in SnackFutures what guides us from the very first moment is always the consumer. Asking what problem or need we are going to solve...

Keshia:

Elliot, you and I had talked about this idea of creating and testing processes, and then actually trying to create a process of the process. Basically, how do we learn to test the test and create something that's replicable over time? Can you speak a little bit more about that?

Elliot: 

Yeah, I think every venture studio has this diagram, the cookie cutter approach, around idea, prototype, test, etc., and it seems like it's really simple and flows.

When in reality there's always a fire you're putting out and you're testing the methodology and what worked a couple months ago is kind of under question now.

So I think it's primarily because of two things. You're building the factory that produces new brands and you're also building the brands themselves. When you are overseeing a process like that, a workflow, you get meta a lot and you step back and you try to think, what are we doing wrong at the process level that could be impacting the brands that were created? Every venture studio probably has a different workflow that they've found fits their business objectives. For us it has been being super flexible to come back in a quarter or so and change it entirely.

Keshia:

How are you all interacting with the broader teams of a broader organization, if at all? 

Barbara:

I think it's as important to be connected with the internal team, as it is to be connected and build an external ecosystem. So I would say for us, it's really around internal and external ecosystems or partners… Our team is around 10 team members, that's the core team. Then, on demand we are working with packaging, product development, trends, and other areas or other other teams where needed.

Elliot:

Being at a big company that starts an innovation team, they really want you to move fast and break things. But there's a natural resistance to that when you actually do things outside of the status quo... When you're making actual packaged goods that need to be of a certain quality, you have to find a balance between something and not rebelling and doing something cool. A lot of the red tape you're going to be experiencing is of your own company's creation... So if you're not learning how to move through your company's politics, how to sell it, and how to get people to have that vision to test new things, It makes like all of like the the testing experimental mindset stuff that's like all out in the world and makes it all for naught, if people aren't going to give you the freedom to do that testing.

 


To listen to the rest of the webinar where these industry experts continue to touch on topics like how innovation has changed in the pandemic and what data they are actually using day to day, check out the recording above!

 

For more information on product industry trends, and what Highlight is up to head to the Highlight blog or check out related articles below.