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3 Ways to Boost Beverage Brand Innovation

5 2022

In a highly competitive beverage market, brand innovation can make the difference between leading the pack and being left behind. 

If you don’t embrace new ideas, you risk losing current customers and failing to gain new ones. It’s clear that the old business expression “if you’re not growing, you’re dying” is more relevant than ever in 2022.

Customers crave the feeling that they’re at the forefront of innovation, drinking the most cutting-edge, adventurous beverages out there. So how can you create and develop innovative beverages for your brand, but also mitigate the risks associated with introducing new products?

Here’s how.

1. Knowing your audience

To craft the right brand innovation strategy for your business, you need to understand the connection between your company’s identity and your target audience. Research your customers and see what matters to them. 

Younger consumers are more likely to be concerned with matters around sustainability, while more mature audiences may be primarily interested in a brand’s history. It’s up to you to discover your target market’s priorities, and focus your brand innovation around those preferences.

Rolling out new, innovative beverages as quickly as possible is not a path to success. Throwing random SKUs on the shelf dilutes your brand’s position and reputation. Instead, you should focus on developing winning products that will resonate with your market. 

Utilize social listening to stay abreast of what’s trending on social media. Review online conversations and note the products generating the most buzz, so that you can adjust your new products accordingly.  

When considering “whether you have a good innovation strategy, don’t forget to take off your ‘professional’ hat and put on your ‘human’ hat and reflect on your favorite innovations and why you love them,” says Julia Wing-Larson, managing director at consumer consultancy firm Mission Field LLC.

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2. Leverage your team

Brainstorming roundtables with employees is an excellent, tried-and-true method that is popular for good reason. Be sure to bring together a diverse array of participants, from all ages, positions in the company, backgrounds, genders, and levels of experience. An inclusive group provides greater perspective and a more comprehensive, big-picture understanding of potential consumer responses.

It’s important that employee feedback and brainstorming becomes part of your brand’s culture, rather than a one-off event. Brainstorming can have a major positive impact on company morale and employee engagement, encouraging employees to be a part of the brand, and serves as a forum for you to make it clear that their ideas and thoughts matter. 

One way to ensure that your employees remain motivated to continuously generate new ideas and share feedback is by rolling out fun initiatives. These could range from employee of the month to shine a spotlight on stellar team members, providing compensation or free company merchandise to reward highly engaged employees.

Drawings of charts and arrows drew on a poster during a brainstorm

3. Filtering ideas & testing concepts

The most important aspect of the innovation process comes next - sorting through what you have, and deciding which ideas are worth pursuing.

Jennifer Lopez, vice president of product development at Capital One, says that while the company is open to all new ideas, it engages in an intense weeding-out process that sees less relevant concepts left behind

“In our lab, we look at hundreds of ideas annually and then shut down 95% to 97% of them,” she explains. “We’re letting go of those things that don’t work to find that which matters.”

Be sure to engage in extensive research and gauge where there are gaps in the market, as well as potential weak spots. Are there a lack of energy drinks or beverages featuring fun, tropical flavors in your country’s market? What about beverage offerings addressing the trend towards Vitamin C and other drinks with health benefits?

Narrow down the best, most innovative ideas that will resonate with your target audience and reflect your brand’s values. Then look into ways that you can meet market trends and needs that may be overlooked by your competitors.

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Next steps

After you’ve chosen a few solid ideas, you can test which ones are the most likely to result in success for your brand. Present your product to the rest of the company to get the thoughts of people from outside of the creation process. Ensure to follow the same format as when you put together your brainstorming group. Include representatives from different age demographics, gender and position in the company. Keep this group to individuals who you know will provide valuable feedback. Too many opinions is not necessarily a good thing as you can very easily get sidetracked.  

Providing a way for your employees to give anonymous feedback is important for obtaining honest responses. Additionally, allowing people from outside your target audience to try the product provides you with a better understanding of how your product will be viewed by the average consumer. 

Utilize information from both the “outsider” and target market perspectives, and find the overlaps and outliers. That knowledge can help you make the right adjustments to ensure your product is appealing to your consumers and fits their needs and preferences.

As an RC Cola partner, our professionals are happy to help guide you in the best ways to boost your beverage brand innovation. With intimate knowledge and experience in the U.S., one of the world’s most dynamic beverage industries, and across the globe, our unique perspective spots consumer trends early-on to assist in making product decisions. Get in touch if you’d like to learn how we can assist you in boosting your brand innovation.

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