There is never a bad time to innovate

The winners of the CPG Award for Innovation and Creativity was presented today at the GMA Executive Conference. There are 2 winners according to market cap size, a winner for small to mid-size companies and a winner for large cap companies. And the winners are…

Diamond Foods and Henkel Consumer Goods. Despite economic downturn and consumer uncertaintly, both brands moved forward with innovative initiatives, driving brand growth in a down year.  I had the pleasure of serving on the committee that reviewed all the entries and voted for the winners.

Diamond Foods Inc (small cap category) won for their “Project Underdog” initiative. Diamond Foods saw that their #2 position, fighter brands, like Emerald Nuts, needed to be examined and reinvigorated so that they did not risk become irrelevant to consumers or retailers. When your a #2 brand, you have to fight harder! The insight to see the threat ahead, the spirit of teams, and the wisdom to stay true to the brand equities made this a winning effort, resulting in market share gains and retailer confidence.

Henkel Consumer Goods launched breakthrough technology to the laundry detergent category with their introduction of Purex 3 in 1 laundry solution. This product changes how a consumer does the task of laundry by combining three products, a detergent, a fabric softener and a static control product into a single sheet. Speaking as a consumer, they have converted me into a customer, I love this product. But what I loved the most about their submition for this award was the lead off statment on their application, paraphrasing, there is never a bad time to innovate. With all companies facing the toughest economy in decades, a cautious consumer, Henkel could have put this innovation on the back burner until the economy was more predictable. Instead they followed through with their innovation investment, with the mind set that thoughtful, well executed innovation will always reward the brand.

Congratulations to the winners. Tomorrow, Siemens moderates a panel discussion called Igniting Innovation. We’ve gathered a diverse panel of executives from outside the CPG industry to give a unique perspective on successful innovation. Having gone through a dry run today, I have to say, it is going to be an inspiring session.

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