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Innovation & NPD

Brand Innovation & New Product Development (NPD Services) in Asia

Square44 supports Clients that manage consumer brands in the role of Brand Innovation / NPD Agency. We help clients develop new product concepts and ideas and brand innovation initiatives.

Brand Innovation & New Product Development (NPD) Planning is Essential to Commercial Success

In today’s fast-moving world of Consumer Branding it is essential for brands to constantly evaluate if they still deliver enough superior value to stay ahead of their competition. Every brand that doesn’t innovate and fight to become or remain the best at delivering superior value through its products will not survive long-term. The strength of your competitive environment will decide the speed at which death will occur however, so brands that don’t deliver much superior value can get by for quite a while in low-competitive environments. However, fewer and fewer of such environments remain as the world is rapidly becoming a global market place. When a new entrant comes in to a low-competitive market where lazy giants are asleep, market share can get lost quickly. A stunning fact that illustrates this point all too well is that 90% of the Fortune 500 companies that existed 60 years ago are no longer around. Why? Because they too got lazy and failed to keep delivering superior value to their audiences. Think of the wolf on top of the hill not being as hungry as the wolf climbing the hill. The same often applies in the world of big consumer brands. Those that dominate a market already are less inclined to lead innovation, because they are already on top. However it’s exactly that kind of thinking that can spell doom and demise and you only need to think of a brand like Nokia in recent history for a great example to illustrate that point. How quickly did Nokia become obsolete? Our consumers don’t want big screens. We don’t need to improve the internet experience. Software? That’s not relevant. Big mistakes of not being keeping your finger on the pulse of what consumers really want and what competitors are experimenting with to deliver more value. Where is Nokia now?

95% of Brand Innovation & NPD Projects fail

Did you know that over 95% of new product introductions fail? What are the reasons for that? It’s important a core Innovation team is assigned and that expectations and KPI’s are clearly aligned. An Innovation process should be developed and followed that ensures excellence from start to finish. Consumer insights should play a central role at ideation stages and again efforts must begin and end with a strong superior value focus. Deviate from delivering superior value to users and you’ll compromise on the strength of a concept. Logical? Yes, but amazingly often not adhered to. Why? because compromises and risk-averseness are the pain points that drive behavior away from excellence. How many fantastic NPD concepts have you seen that were lost because the concept didn’t fit an existing brand? How many fantastic concepts got compromised because of production, R&D or supply chain issues? How many fantastic NPD concepts were altered so heavily that instead of creating a beautiful horse you ended up with an ugly-looking camel? Unfortunately a harsh reality in the game of NPD & Innovation and an often-cited reason why outside partner teams should help drive innovation & npd efforts.

Staying Focused on Superior Value is the Key to Success

As you can tell, the key to success for brands that wish to compete long-term is rather simple, yet missed by many. Deliver superior value through your brand and your consumers will love you. What is superior value? It’s one part relevance (in the eyes of the consumer) and addressing needs and it’s one part doing that better than competition. If your products are superior to those of your competitors in solving problems, long-term success is achieved easily.

Our Brand Innovation & NPD Services are aimed at helping you maximize the commercial results out of your activities. How? By ensuring your efforts stay centered on consumer focused superior value-thinking. Innovation that starts with a production or supply chain mindset often puts the consumer second. Also too much focus on how far a brand can stretch and not allowing brands to evolve against the one criterion that will deliver long-term commercial success: your ability to deliver .

Square44’s Innovation & NPD Services include:

  • $NPD & Innovation Workshops
  • $Product Concept Development
  • $Product Innovation
  • $Packaging Innovation
  • $Retail Concept Innovation
  • $Brand Activation Innovation

Square44’s Step-by-Step Innovation & NPD Process

Innovation Projects are often developed as 1 or 2-day workshops. Although format and execution do depend on client’s preferences (heavy customization of the generic approach below is often done based on specific requirements a client may have) typically, innovation projects go through several phases:

Phase 1 – Insights

Here we work with the client to establish a good understanding of who we are targeting and who our competitive set exists of. At this point, we’ll be able to define what superior value looks like, which will act as a beacon and red thread along the way as it’s essential for Innovation & NPD Success. Also, it is critical at this stage to develop an operational framework that takes into account resources and capabilities that help ensure that solutions that are being developed will be able to be executed. As much as we want to give creativity free flow in these types of projects, commercial reality often dictates a few boundaries that we simply cannot cross. It is important to know from the start within which limitations solutions need to be created is important so we can adjust the process

Phase 2 – Ideation (in Quantity)

Although it is ideal to run an ideation phase in a high-paced, action packed workshop format with multiple brains in one room and perhaps some super consumers or co-creators to work alongside internal client teams, we can also adapt exercises for remote team or individual ideation. If, for instance, a 2-day workshop is not feasible, or if several countries are part of an innovation project where it’s hard to get everyone in the same room we can still run ideation exercises remotely.


Phase 3 – Selection, Enhancement & Evaluation (Product Concept)

The goal at this phase is to turn quantity into quality. Ideas are merged, combined, adjusted and developed within the operational framework that was set out at phase 1 – all the while keeping in mind the importance of superior value delivery and ensure no compromises are made here that will weaken NPD & Innovation Concepts. At this stage the goal is to develop product concepts that can be evaluated / tested in research.

1.2 - innovation funnel development

Phase 4 – The Branding Layer (Brand Concept)

The concepts that survive the evaluation phase now need a branding layer. A story, a personality and a concept that connects the dots in the superior value  This is where things often get tricky and where the babies get thrown out with the bathwater. Great new product concepts are sometimes force fitted under existing brands, where brand stretch suddenly doesn’t make sense.

1.3 - packaging innovation

Phase 5 – Execution

The only part left is execution! Launching your new product and supporting it in the right way will help maximize the chances for success!

Get in Touch

Are you in charge of NPD & Innovation for your brand? Would you like to explore engaging a partner to aid you with your innovation processes? Interested in maximizing the ROI of your npd & innovation efforts? Get in touch here, to start a conversation today!

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