Sandra Ericson|Apr 22, 2015

The idea that companies should always put the customer first seems like it should be a given for any service or product-oriented business. I’ve heard it said in a lot of mission statements – but are most brands really walking the walk?

Many marketers would probably admit that one or two of their customer-centric big ideas have been given the axe with responses like, “But that would require a shift in our operations” or “I just don’t see how we can implement that.” Sometimes that may be the reality, but it got me thinking about when, how and why companies should innovate and implement a major change in operations that ultimately benefits the customer.

Our client SCM World uses the knowledge and experience of supply chain professionals at the world’s largest companies to compile some very cool research. A recent survey examines what qualities make successful innovators and provides strategies for more successful R&D and deployment. An interesting fact SCM World points out is that the Innovation Success Rate (whether a product meets commercial expectations) is lower than 50 percent for a third of the nearly 500 surveyed. That means a good chunk of the world’s most recognized brands are betting a coin toss on their new products’ success.

So why take risks at all? Well, the SCM World research identifies certain traits shared among innovation leaders (those with an 80 percent Innovation Success Rate). Not surprisingly, many of their traits are also shared by Breakout Brands. In fact, they recognize all three of our critical Breakout Brand principles.

Breakout Brand Trait #1: Focus on the customer, not the competition

Innovation leaders are using social media more than their counterparts to gather real-time customer feedback, make enhancements to their products and get a sense of demand. Instead of chasing news of their competitors and trying to scoop them, they’re listening to their own customers and paving their own way.

Breakout Brand Trait #2: Create the future by delivering better services and/or products

The most successful innovators are constantly thinking about the next customer improvement. The SCM World survey says they have more SKUs than other companies and, in today’s on-demand environment, are figuring out ways to go directly to the customer. (Think Amazon.)

Breakout Brand Trait #3: Put communication first, second and third

Both innovators and their organizations are integrated, meaning they communicate constantly and don’t operate in silos. The data is aligned with rbb’s notion that Breakout Brands have communication in their soul. They don’t expect their integrated communications teams to come in after the fact and “sell” an artificial image or benefit. Instead, everyone collaborates to create a philosophy that works from the start. As you can see on the following chart, the less integration – the less success.

SCM World’s goal in the report was to demonstrate to its members the best way to design for profitability – how to ensure the risk reaps the reward. Sure, changes in operations, even to benefit the customer, can seem daunting. But by following these best practice approaches from some of the world’s leading innovators and Breakout Brands, you are in a much better place to ensure the risk reaps the reward. I’d take that bet.


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