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Fanning the Flames of Innovation

By: Jeff Falk
Posted: June 9, 2008, from the June 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

“A great flame follows a little spark.”

—Dante Alighieri

Reading the lists of the most innovative ideas and products featured in almost every magazine lately, it’s easy to overlook that on-shelf innovation is, in most cases, the result of an ongoing and collaborative process. The product ready to explode into consumers’ lives once it hits the shelves is the outcome of multiple flints striking multiple stones, capturing those sparks and nurturing the flame. Innovation that becomes success is much more than an idea—it’s a well-conceived idea executed intelligently with follow-through and built upon the foundation of strong partnerships.

For suppliers, being innovative depends on understanding consumers, the market and their own customers—all while employing and executing their own knowledge base. Innovation, as ABI PR’s president Alan Isacson says, is about giving brands the competitive edge. Supplier innovations are only truly realized once they are successfully implemented by a brand. However, that is not to suggest that their’s is a passive role; GCI magazine explores suppliers’ relation- ships with brands in the creation process and how suppliers foster ideas, products and new ways of thinking for success on the shelf.

Elevation

Sometimes, it’s not a new way, it’s a better way. Better packaging methods can elevate a brand. Beyond simply being fashionable or trendy looking, a package can create real marketing advantages or even breathe new life into segments.