Insights about how people see innovation

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What Innovation Means to Consumers

The meaning of innovation to the average consumer is creations that are empowering a user with choice, transparency, convenience, and sustainability.

Innovation and consumers

  • Startups and innovation are closely linked together. Several startups utilize specific algorithms or social media to observe consumers needs and expectations.
  • Consumers expect innovation across all categories if there is an innovation in another industry. For example, they expect an airline to respond to their social media because broadband provider respond quickly.
  • 42% of men and 39% of women of named Nike as the most innovative athletics apparel brand.

Examples of Innovation

  • Nestlé Wellness Ambassador provides nutritional advice to consumers using their DNA, blood tests and diet habits.
  • REWE provided consumers with a choice of sugar levels in their chocolate pudding. This is a choice between taste and health.
  • ASOS, a clothes retailer in the UK, empowers customers by having them see how one outfit can fit different body sizes.
  • Apple's new IOS has a feature where users are able to know how much time they have spent on the phone and on certain applications.
  • Twiga foods in Kenya and IBM partnered to help food stall vendors with microloans. They use end-to-end block chain which bring forth transparency.
  • BMW has launched a wireless charger for the hybrid cars. The charging station is a ground pad that the car is driven on and off of, and charging starts automatically as soon as the car is in the right position and the ignition is off.
  • Unilever developed a spray especially for millenials that helps postpone washing clothes. The spray helps to eliminate odor and wrinkles.
  • Amazon excels by reducing cost, saving time, offering a vast variety of products, reducing customer effort, avoiding hassles, and providing easy access to their products.
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What Makes a Brand Innovative

People consider a brand as innovative when there is clarity in its high-level intentions, when it improves functionality, resonates with the consumers, when the brand normalizes new features, and when it connects ideas.

5 things about a brand that makes people see it as innovative


  • A brand is considered innovative when it releases a product that brings out a clear connection between the consumer and where the product is going with its ideas in order to be perceived as innovative.
  • It is also evident when the connectivity is done in such a manner that the brand's high-level intentions are clearly spelled out and easy to make sense of.
  • A brand should have a clear storyline developed around it for people to find it innovative.


  • For a brand to be seen as innovative, the consumer needs to see that it brings improved enhancement.
  • A brand should be able to introduce an extension of the existing product or service.
  • The innovation also needs to add to the functionality at a reduced cost in order to be seen as a good value for innovative investment.


  • Innovative brands usually strike a balance between what the customers want or are longing for and what the brand, in essence, is providing.
  • They can do this by implementing new technology or idea in an industry that has not caught on yet in addressing the prevalent needs of the consumer at that particular time.
  • A brand is considered innovative when it manifests a well-integrated social approach on how to serve their customers.


  • Brands are seen as innovative when they go to great lengths to assuage/ease the customer's risk of trying out the new product and features.
  • This is done in such a way that the brand positions the innovation and gives it proper meaning through the normalization of all the new features, thus giving the brand credibility.
  • The normalization can also take place through using social media creatively to create awareness of the products new features.


  • Innovation can also be seen in the brand when it effectively attempts and succeeds in connecting numerous brilliant ideas together to condense it into one great idea.
  • Connecting ideas is essentially seen as the creative act in a brand that makes people see it as innovative.

Research Strategy:

To commence our research, we searched through go-to industry business publications like Business Insider, AdWeek, Branding Strategy Insider, Fast Company, Ameyo and the like, in search of the identity of some of the most innovative brands in the world today. We found out that, Walt Disney Company, Apple, Amazon, Shopify and the like, were featured prominently throughout most business articles that attempted to tackle this particular topic of brand innovation.

We, therefore, dug deeper into our research through the articles in Business Strategy Insider, Times, and Forbes to find out further the characteristics of some of the most innovative brands and to try to zero in on the details of whether some of those innovative brands share the same characteristics that make them stand out. We found out that common characteristics among companies which had brands considered to be innovative were the clarity and simplicity with which they portrayed the high-level direction that the product was going with its ideas. Also, we discovered that the products that were better able to connect with the customers to improve not only the products functionality and features but also do so at a relatively lower cost, were considered to be more innovative.

We scoured through the business articles to find out if any of those companies cited were implementing new technology or idea within the industry that had not caught on yet or if brands that had greater customer service or employed greater creativity in social media usage, were being considered to be more innovative than their peers. In the course of the search, we were able to consolidate the most common characteristics of brands that people consider to be innovative as presented above.
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Leaders In Innovation

The brands that are considered leaders in innovation in the world today include Tesla, Google, Boeing, Alibaba, and BASF. We have provided more details below.


  • The company specializes in manufacturing electric cars and is at the forefront of car innovation.
  • According to experts, Tesla is recognized as the most innovative car company because of its "use of bleeding-edge technology such as artificial intelligence, especially since the company is arguably the most tech-focused car maker today. This is evident in the deep level of hardware and software integration in Tesla’s electric cars, which is something that other automakers are yet to adopt."
  • Tesla developed two new safety modes for their cars: "Lane Departure Avoidance and Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance — which help drivers to stay engaged and in their lane in order to avoid accidents with drivers from the other lanes".
  • Tesla introduced and integrated more advanced features on its cars autopilot mode that was introduced last year.
  • The company recently ventured into building space flight technology.
  • Tesla recently launched a "satellite that can serve 250 million people".
  • Tesla is also at the forefront of energy generation and storage innovations, which include solar panels and the energy distribution.


  • Google is the leader in web services.
  • The company has introduced dozens of innovations over the years.
  • One of its most recent innovations is the Google nascent Tango project that allows a mobile device to "measure physical space without the need for GPS or other external signals, thus putting all the technology inside a mobile device such as a phone or tablet".
  • Google recently ventured into the automotive industry, developing "Waymo which is an independent driving venture".
  • Another recent innovation is an artificial intelligence sensor called Smart Wildfire that can predict and identify forests that are prone to wildfire. They have also developed a mobile app called Ubenwa that can diagnose children with certain diseases.


  • Alibaba is a leader in e-commerce.
  • Alibaba recently introduced the Hema app which allows customers to pre-order fresh ingredients and pay using facial recognition technology. The process has been "dubbed "new retail," the blending of digital into real-world shopping experiences with the goal of creating the best of both worlds."
  • The company has also broadened its scope to include "artificial intelligence, augmented reality, facial recognition, connected “internet” vehicles, global virtual marketplaces, app-based digital payment systems (Alipay), pharmaceutical e-commerce, humanoid robots and manufacturing giant vending machines for cars".


  • BASF's innovative drive has made it one of the leading chemical companies globally. The company's main innovative solutions are in the field of crop production and biotechnology.
  • BASF recently partnered with "AI software developer Citrine to build models that identify new materials for capturing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases".
  • The company has also opened up a new innovation center in Asia that is focused on innovations in food, automotive, and nutrition.
  • They have also developed innovative solutions in the field of performance products, oil and gas, and functional materials and solutions.
  • BASF recently made an investment in Longwater Advanced Materials Fund to help increase its innovative capabilities in the area of advanced materials and chemistry-related technology.


  • LG Electronics is a leader in providing innovative appliances and household electronics.
  • The company's recent innovative offerings include OLED TV'S, visionary artificial intelligence products, and ultra-premium home appliances.
  • The company is focused on producing innovative AI products, and its Al offerings are sold under the ThinQ brand name.
  • LG's recent innovative additions to its ultra-premium home appliance collections include dryers, bottom-freezer refrigerators, and wine cellars.
  • LG has also introduced CLOi SuitBot, a robot that is worn around the waist and "supports the wearer’s waist, reducing the risk of injury and fatigue when performing physically demanding tasks such as lifting and lowering heavy packages."


From Part 02
  • "no brand should simply press ahead with lateral innovations and rely on design or promotion to engender acceptance"
  • "expectations can be changed if the explanation for the change fits with what consumers feel they ‘know’."
  • "marry an idea that consumers recognize, and that has its own associations, with the brand innovation in order to lift overall interest, acceptance and curiosity."
  • "leveraging the trust factors that consumers have with the brand itself"
  • "using story to normalize new ideas;"
  • "making the brand’s high-level intentions clear so that people can connect where the brand is going with the products it releases."
  • "firmly embed what the core brand stands for."
  • "The best innovations improve, enhance and extend an existing product or service. These innovations add functionality, reduce costs or turn niche markets into mass markets."
  • "Innovation requires disruptive technology"
  • " meaningful innovations often come from approaching a specific customer problem or need in a novel fashion, adopting and adapting processes and methods from adjacent industries or removing painful steps from existing service experiences."
  • " When you can find the crossover between what your customers want and what your brand provides, you've struck gold."
  • "They reduce the customers’ risk of trying new products and features."
  • "They position the innovation and give it meaning."
  • "And finally, brands normalize the new product or feature; they give it credibility"
  • "Today we live in a world that encourages specialization, whether we are students, scholars, workers or professionals. We also tend to exalt training in technology and engineering, believing that the jobs of the future will go to those who can code and build rather than those who can be creative,” Isaacson writes. The innovators of the future, argues Isaacson, are those who, like Leonardo and Jobs, study the art of science and the science of art."