How did it become a universal truth that big brands can’t do innovation? Perhaps it was the fact that so many multinationals swallowed up fast-growth companies all too literally.
Even for Coca-Cola, Britain’s Biggest Brand once again, the past is littered with failure, as it has openly acknowledged in acquiring and running Innocent at strictly arm’s length – at least until the earnout of founders Adam Balon, Richard Reed and Jon Wright ends next year.
But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been real innovation among Britain’s 100 Biggest Brands. Just look at what’s going on at Warburtons, Weetabix, Danone or Burton’s Foods.
Take Activia pouring yoghurt. Here’s a product that answers the time-starved consumer’s need to ‘multitask’, delivering cereal, fruit and probiotic shot in one step and making dairy consumption more palatable to people who will happily eat a yoghurt but steer clear of plain milk. Why didn’t someone do that sooner, you ask?
Well, Rachel’s – a small, cute and clever company – already did… only to pull the plug in January. Along with other Activia extensions it proves that Britain’s biggest and best brands can deliver a better platform for growth – partly thanks to deeper pockets but also, potentially, the strength of the brand.
Let’s not forget what Zero and Diet have delivered. In the focus on brands, there is too much emphasis on innovation. As Coca-Cola says, the best marketing and execution IS innovation.
Whether it’s CCE’s Open More Business, or Innocent’s new juice carafes, the trick is the executional mix.