Being an undifferentiated ingredient supplier is and will remain a valid business model for some companies in various B2B industries. However, I strongly advocate and support the notion that the most innovative companies need to position themselves to be recognized as the “chili pepper” for the end-consumers of their products.
Allow me please one short culinary excursion: when preparing a dish, many different food ingredients are used. Many have the role of “fillers” without any specific or memorable taste. Very few, however, will leave a lasting impression on us as spices, and the pungent chili pepper in particular. If you like it, you will remember it and ask for more. This needs also to be the feeling and memory of an end-consumer using a final product enabled by your own product or solution.
Now back to innovation, and innovation in the chemical industry. The work of my colleagues in this industry entrusted with the task to develop new breakthrough products has become harder, actually extremely hard. The times are long gone that a chemist would develop a new compound in the laboratory, and it would find a market. Well, there have been many, too many such inventions, and the market is saturated and facing ever-changing end-consumer needs and wishes. Finding a truly new product, especially a new “chili pepper”, has become extremely challenging. In this journey, many times unexplored for many chemical companies, the end-consumer needs and must be at the center of every single action of, not only but most importantly, every innovation department.
This is easier said than done, yes, but it is the road that will reveal the truly successful companies with the highest returns to stake- and shareholders alike. When placing the end-consumer at their center of action, B2B companies will start living their newly coined B2B2C role. They will remain truthful to their B2B origins but, ultimately, understand in their specific functionalities the B2C end-consumers in detail!
My suggestion on where to start this journey of finding your next “chili pepper”, as I validated in a recent project within a B2B company, is to start your innovation projects with thorough, immersive ethnographic studies with the target end-consumers. Only when you have gained that understanding, you will be able to create and develop impactful and sustainable innovations. The ones where the functionality that makes the end-consumer choose one product versus another was conferred by your product, your “chili pepper”.
I realize that in itself, this journey is an internal innovation for many companies, and not all will be willing or capable of following it. But those who do, will be rewarded with loyal clients and higher returns! At least a permissive company culture and a different strategy of partnering with the entire value chain are required in this journey; I will come back to that in future Posts. You can read a brief Post on another essential competency, leadership, here.
Dare to change to discover your “chili peppers”. It is worth even beyond innovation projects!
These are topics that keep us engaged and motivated to deliver best value to our clients at InnoCres Consultancy.
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