Innovation. It’s a term that’s bounced around the brand world regularly, but it’s often unclear what ‘innovative’, ‘cutting-edge’ and ‘original’ really mean. That’s why we’ve decided to explore the elusive concept of ‘innovation’ to see what it takes for brands to be truly innovative in 2021, and to find out which brands are currently coming out on top in this space.
From working with over 800 brands, we’ve established 16 factors that form a strong relationship between brands and people: what we call our 16 Drivers. Identifying which Drivers your brand excels in and which need improvement, can give you a deeper understanding of how your brand is performing in relation to your category, compared to your competition.
One of our Drivers – you guessed it - is Innovation. Determined by how forward-thinking and original people feel your brand is, brands that score highly in Innovation are always iterating and discovering new ways of doing things.
The ProQuo 100: Brand Innovation Index reveals the top 100 most innovative brands, as determined by their customers. Over the past 3 months, we have interacted with 333,380 people, collecting data on 479 brands across 57 categories to uncover who the most innovative brands are.
What was the top performing category in Innovation?
The Health and Nutrition category won the top spot with plant-based, vegan or organic brands like Love Raw and Whole Earth dominating the top 20. Even more interestingly, we found that — across the board — brands that score highly in Innovation were also top performers in their category. And those who were successfully driving Innovation also often over overdelivered on Product Delivery and the product itself, introducing new concepts into their categories to shake up the market.
Who saw the biggest increase in Innovation in the last 3 months?
The Health and Nutrition category also contained the brands that saw the biggest increase in Innovation over the last 3 months, suggesting there’s not only been fierce competition but serious originality in how brands have appealed to their health-focused consumer in a post-COVID world.
To better understand how and why certain brands excel in some Drivers over others, we’ve looked into the actions of these brands through the lens of the 14 possible Marketing Levers. These Levers are common across all brands – they are specific actions that a Brand Manager can pull at any one time to increase different Drivers and accelerate their brand growth – ranging from Distribution to Merchandising to Partnerships. The most commonly associated with high Innovation scores are: Communications, Product, Partnerships, Pricing and Packaging.
Here are some of the top scorers in Innovation:
The baby and toddler food brand Organix may be an unassuming claimer of the top spot, but what have they done to make waves in their market?
Using organic ingredients to create flavorsome, nutritious children’s food that’s good for little tummies as well as the environment, is the brand’s core Proposition. A proposition that was already carving out a new space in the category. But since their rebrand in 2019, they’ve majored on Communications through creating an online content hub packed with tips and guides for parents and educational games for kids, which over time, has earnt them a community of loyal followers.
Recognizing that mealtimes and trying new things can be a struggle for hard-to-please babies and toddlers, they’ve created healthy recipes, tips and tricks, food charts and games designed to make kids love eating good and varied food. By bringing organic nutrition and environmental awareness to the Baby & Toddler market, Organix have innovated into a new space in their category.
Well-known water bottle brand, Chilly’s Bottles’ also scored high in the Innovation rankings. Their mission - to accelerate the adoption and everyday use of reusable products - meant a new product range spanning water bottles, coffee cups and food pots, and a Partnership with the organisation Refill in the award-winning plastic reducing campaign City To Sea. By donating £10 from every Refill X Chilly’s bottle, coffee cup or food pot bought, the Partnership helped Refill to stop over 100 million plastic bottles from entering our waste stream. Not only are they constantly innovating to bring out new products that reduce single-use plastic, they’re driving new Partnerships that don’t directly serve a commercial objective, but are aligned with their core Proposition. In a world where consumer trust is low and demand for purposeful brands high, it’s an innovative way to stand out in your category.
We spoke to Work.Life, another top scorer in the brand index, to hear their thoughts on their ranking. Here’s what they had to say, “It’s an honor to be ranked number 6 in ProQuo’s most innovative brands! Over the last 18 months, Work.Life has had to remain innovative and adapt to changing times - by listening to what businesses need, and creating more flexible options, with safe, welcoming workspaces to bring teams back together!”
People gravitate towards original and thought-leading brands - brands that can cater to needs that haven’t yet been met by the competition. As the competitive brand world grows ever fiercer, and the opportunity to be seen becomes scarcer, Innovation has a crucial part to play in the future of a brand’s customer engagement, loyalty, and commercial outcome.
If you're looking to build an innovative brand that makes waves in your market, check out our latest brand index below.