Product innovation refers to companies that are introducing new products or services to the market. Apple’s iPad,3M’s Post-its and Gillette’s continuously redesigned razors all fall under the umbrella of ‘product innovation’. In contrast, marketing innovation refers to companies coming up with novel, creative strategies and methods to market a company’s products and services. From the basic marketing method of ‘product labelling’ all the way to viral videos, marketing innovation has helped companies promote their products in unique and exciting ways.
Why should companies combine product and marketing innovation?
Many companies still believe that introducing new products is the only way a company can grow. While this strategy has done wonders for many, success doesn’t solely depend on product innovation. Marketing innovation has in fact proved to be immensely valuable in a company’s growth. For proof, look no further than Google, Toyota and Apple, all extremely profitable companies growing at a rapid rate. Their success is not only down to product innovation, such as the Toyota Prius or Google Glass, but also marketing innovation such as Google’s Zero Moment of Truth campaign.
How does innovative marketing convince customers to try a new product?
The nature of product innovation assumes that potential customers know very little about the newly released item. And this is where marketing comes in. The key to innovative marketing is that the message of the product must cut through to attract and engage potential customers.
Take 3M for example. Its Post-it product had to be launched not once but twice to get the attention it wanted from customers. The first time round the product flunked in the market, so much so that the company discontinued the line. The second time, after employing the aggressive marketing tactic of offering enormous amounts of free samples, 3M was able to turn around its re-order client list from almost zero to a whopping 90%.
How does innovative marketing maintain high product awareness?
Of course, a groundbreaking product will speak for itself to some extent, but the likelihood of a company creating groundbreaking products on a quarterly basis are slim. An alternative is to market products through innovative methods to encourage repeat customers. For example, take the Coca Cola marketing campaigns. The original Coca Cola product has been around for over a hundred years and yet it still manages to sell a billion units per day on a global scale. This is the result of powerful marketing innovation.
Coca Cola is constantly coming up with innovative marketing campaigns to keep its customers interested. Recently, the world's best known beverage brand ramped up its tactics by encouraging customers to engage with the brand and each other. Across the world, it has offered customers a chance to customise their own bottle with their name, or with the names of friends and loved ones. While this campaign was not entirely free from controversy, on the whole it created an emotional bond with the product, keeping brand awareness and engagement high.
In the end it is clear that product innovation will only get brands some of the way; it takes market innovation to ensure long-term success.