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Blog
11 December, 2013

Blog: Innovation, conceptual thinking and cooperation in the retail chain

“What can other sectors learn  from the Dutch horticulture sector?”

Innovation is a hot topic. More and more companies try to robot present themselves as an innovative company. Often the aim is to bring distinctive products or services on the market which are the tangible result of an innovation process. The innovation of the ultimate product which is supposed to create more value on the market often  takes place somewhere else  in the chain  and  is not realized by the company that markets the product . Sometimes somewhere where one certainly would not expect it.

In this blog I want to focus in particular on innovation and concept development in the Dutch horticulture sector. The Netherlands are a major international player in this market. The innovative character of the Dutch horticulturist and growers contributes to this success in a spectacular way. The Dutch government is aware of the importance of innovation in the horticultural sector and co-invests to maintain the competitive advantage.

The innovative ability of companies in this sector is characterized by value chain thinking. For example discussions with wholesalers and retailers such as supermarkets, analyzing customer’s needs and the end product but also in  raw materials. In the last years this resulted in a shift from product thinking towards concept thinking. The consumer and consumer needs are the key and no longer  the end product itself.

What are the implications of this new way of thinking? Of course, innovation also took place in the ‘old’ product thinking process. The application of new techniques and the breeding of new varieties made ​​sure that new products were brought to market or  existing products got improved. However, with these innovations a ‘push’ strategy was used . New  products  were brought to  market while  the  consumer need was not evident.

Zon 150910- 047 With concept thinking the input for innovation comes from the (end)consumer and there is a ‘pull’ strategy. For example, the consumer may have a need for other forms of application of a certain type of vegetable. Or there is the desire for fruits and vegetables  which taste better or are more fun for kids. Often these needs are not easy to fulfill and it requires a long and costly innovation process where one will be confronted with skeptics who consider certain innovations as unfeasible. Often this are chain partners who are stuck in the ‘old’ way of innovation thinking. They still think in terms of the (in)possibilities of the current product.

Concept thinking may sound like a marketing tool, but I believe  when concept thinking is applied well, a sustainable customer relationship can be realized. This goes beyond the product. Creating an experience, telling the story around the product and respond to moments of use. These are just some of the many aspects that can be taken into consideration.

For the horticultural sector, concept thinking in the chain is relatively new. In other sectors, this trend is put into motion years ago. The challenge in these sectors is to  start the concept thinking in a ‘ new’  way.

Thinking about different and new sales channels, the new role of distributors, how exports can play a  more important role or how new and/or other countries offer opportunities by adjusting the concept to local needs.

Or review the role of the wholesale, involve raw Clothes-Recycling-300x193 material suppliers in the development of recyclable materials or sustainable production, looking at options for production closer to home, what can stakeholders add in the process etc.

Are you, after reading this blog, inspired and would you like to learn more about  the way you can apply innovation and concept thinking in your business, the chain and in your assortment and products?

Please feel free to contact us by sending an e-mail to info@preneurl.com. And the digital partners; what role can the digital chain play in the innovation process. There are countless variations possible in which the chain in different sectors can be reviewed and enhanced, in order  to  come to a necessary  final innovation.