If you ask a manager of an FMCG company, whether manufacturer or distributor, about the most important growth levers for his business we can be sure that “innovation” will be among the first answers, if not the first.
For many industry stakeholders, the world of mass consumption is still a universe of innovation that is even still called “modern channel” in some countries even though it has now been around for more than 50 years. In comparison, would it occur to anybody to call a vehicle from the 70s a “modern car”?
It is true that the development of mass distribution, self-service, shopping with your own car etc. was in its time a real revolution in the lives of our parents and grandparents. In parallel, the introduction of “new technologies” at home such as the washing machine, the dishwasher or (yes, yes…) the bathroom, as well as the luxury of leisure and free time available for a wider population pushed the development of new categories and product innovations. Those improvements in the quality of life and a set of new “how” and “what” to buy pushed the world towards the “consumerism” of the second half of the twentieth century.
Son of the 60’s, I started my career in 1988 and experienced how you could revolutionize the yogurt category with a new variety of lactic ferment called “active bifidus”. I continued in the 90’s working with personal care categories that could count as a growth potential the 70% of French males who still dispensed with the use of a deodorant and who only had to be convinced that this would add a great value to their ability to seduce! In both cases the weight of year N-1 innovation in year N turnover was very often above 25% and double-digit growth rates year after year were nothing science fiction.