Product Innovation

by The Times 100 on Wednesday 18th April, 2007

In the news … Product Innovation

The Times 100 Nestle case study describes the importance of maintaining a brand in an age of”modern sophisticated consumers constantly seek novelty and change”. The case study describes how consumer demands have driven the many changes to flavours, colours and packaging that have been undertaken to products such as Smarties and Kit Kats. Nestle's launch of Kit Kat Chunky has shown that”intelligent innovation and adaptation can allow a product's life cycle to be significantly prolonged.

In the news this week is another product that has evolved to ensure prolonged success within the marketplace. The BBC reported that the one millionth Mini rolled off the production line at Cowley, near Oxford this month, after the revival of the car by German manufacturer BMW (BBC, 4th April 2007). Some 700 Minis are now produced every day at the Oxford plant, where 4,700 people work three shifts, seven days per week.

Whilst the BBC is celebrating the sales, The Sunday Times has highlighted the impressive branding success by BMW that the high sales imply. They state:

“When BMW first took over the Mini in 1994, the British were skeptical - how would a German company recapture the”indefinable Britishness” of our classic?” (Sunday Times online, 4th April 2007)

Since BMW took over, they have redeveloped the car for the modern market, whilst managing to maintain the qualities that people loved about the original. There are now innovative plans for the Mini brand with a proposed larger”family car”, the Mini Clubman and even a 4×4. Mini has also extended its badge to a range of clothing and accessories (Sunday Times online, 4th April 2007). As with Nestle's innovations with their chocolate brands, BMW appear to understand how to ensure that the product life cycle for the Mini remains long and prosperous.

Sources:

http://www.thetimes100.co.uk/case_study.php?cID=7&csID=52&pID=3

Millionth Mini produced in Oxford – BBC News 4 April 2007

Germany wins the brand war - TIMES ONLINE 4 April 2007

Mini UK

Study Questions:

What product innovation has been employed for Smarties in recent years?  (View the case study for answers!)

What are the different stages of a product lifecycle?

Why might the development of the KitKat Chunky be considered an extension strategy for the KitKat brand? 

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