While The Grocer’s review of the year before Christmas highlighted some great achievements by brands, individuals and businesses last year, I did find myself asking whether the big brands and retailers had embraced much of an innovation agenda.

Some will have hit their innovation targets, but were they really intent on generating innovation that would have a long-term impact or were they more focused on the here and now?

It will be interesting to see which brands and businesses seek out the new and different in 2014. Will a major retailer look to own the accolade of being the leading force for innovation? I’m not sure anyone currently deserves the title. Will it be a leading brand owner? Or will it be a year for the entrepreneurs to shake up food and drink with exciting new opportunities for growth?

“Already, Ocado is driving innovation and fresh thinking”

Already, Ocado is driving innovation and fresh thinking. Sir Stuart Rose and Tom Kerridge, among others, will be running a Dragons’ Den-style competition with the retailer to attract small and medium-sized businesses to get stocked. What a great idea. The winner also receives a £10,000 marketing package.

P&G said at the end of last year that it would launch several major innovations early this year and focus on brand equity rather than price promotion. Unilever CEO Paul Polman also confirmed that it would accelerate its innovations to build long-term growth and value. All good signs.

Not everyone was quite as strategic about innovation for 2014 and beyond, however. Only in December were we asked to create a three-year innovation pipeline for six key brands in just four weeks as the innovation cupboard was bare. Such a kiss-me-quick approach may not bode well in the coming years for such important household brands.

The comforting factor this year is the unanimous recognition among senior teams that price promotions and range extensions are not the driver of sustainable growth and brand innovation in the long term.

Achieving real innovation is not about just having goals, it’s about changing the behaviour and the culture in which innovation can thrive. There also needs to be far more innovation in service, marketing approaches and experiments undertaken to unlock great new ideas and firsts to market. Interesting that Ronny Gottschlich, in his first-ever interview with The Grocer last year, said Lidl very much had the feeling of a start-up. Could it be first with drone deliveries?

Maybe 2014 should be the year for all the big players and retailers to embrace more entrepreneurial principles and behaviour? Let innovation thrive!

Claire Nuttall is founding partner of Thrive