Product innovation or marketing strategy: What comes first?

‘Innovate or die’ is a phrase often used to describe the approach brands must take to stay ahead in an ultra-competitive market characterised by rapidly changing consumer demand.

However, the way companies go about driving new product development depends very much on their structure, priorities and where marketing sits within the innovation journey.

Marketing’s influence is key to ensuring new offerings fit with a strategy determined by customers’ needs, so companies aren’t stuck trying to sell something for which there is no demand. But brands have to balance being insight-driven with being able to launch products that no focus group would ever think to suggest.

Brands are taking new approaches to this problem all the time, as PepsiCo recently showed with its efforts to develop an ecommerce-only healthy squash brand Drinkfinity, which launched in March. The Drinkfinity team was set up to mirror the way a startup operates, all the way from innovation to execution. The team worked entirely independently from the rest of PepsiCo, using a separate office and working with different manufacturers.