There's been so much talk about the need for true innovation in recent years, it's bound to be a surprise when a consumer product touts the fact that it's saying "no" to innovation. A short MediaPost article, Post Shredded Wheat Celebrates Non-Innovation, was startling, refreshing and downright terrific–for just that reason.

The premise of the Post Shredded Wheat campaign–"We Put the "No" in Innovation"--developed by Ogilvy is a brilliant idea. Why would the company consider taking a successful, simple product, tinker with it and try to "innovate" it? Obviously companies innovate products for a number of reasons. But this is not desirable in many cases.
Right now, the hottest trend in food and beverage marketing is all about promoting "simplicity"–that is few, healthy ingredients–in a highly transparent manner on packaging and in advertising. But, a product like Post Shredded Wheat is and always has been, natural and simple. It's made from 100% whole grain wheat, and has been for 117 years.
So doesn't it make sense to remind consumers about that fact? Doesn't it make sense to let consumers know pure and wholesome hasn't changed in any way?
This got me thinking: have you ever noticed how consumer product companies always seem to be tweaking even great-selling products? How many packages have you seen in your lifetime touting that the products within are "new and improved"?
How many times have you purchased a favorite commodity product and found it had been "improved" with one of two results: no appreciable difference from what you've grown accustomed to and like–hence you continue buying the product? Or, such a drastically different flavor profile, you became disappointed and vow never to purchase it again?
Sometimes the best thing companies can do is leave their products alone. Remember when Coke launched its New Coke product, thinking it would retire its original formula? That mistake cost the company dearly. Coke saved face by reintroducing Classic Coke, but the company learned a valuable lesson, after sales plummeted.
Even leaving iconic products alone but revitalizing their packaging can create consumer disconnects. Remember when Tropicana recently contemporized its OJ packaging? Consumer outcry was loud and immediate. Net result? After spending millions of dollars to repackage, Tropicana announced it would reinstate its heritage packaging–its new packaging had been in distribution for a scant month.
Consumers can let their feelings about innovations in products and packaging be known in a number of ways. Not only can they vote with their wallets and refuse to purchase them; they can call, mail, email or blog their comments quickly and easily. Reaction is much faster and positive or negative feedback registers quickly with companies.
What kinds of products or packaging do you think benefit from NOT being innovated?
Have you personally objected to innovations made to products or packaging? Were your objections sufficient enough to make you stop purchasing those products?
Have you ever taken the step to call, write, email or blog about product innovations you either loved or hated? If not, would you consider doing that in future?
I'd love to hear from you.

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image of Ted Mininni

Ted Mininni is president and creative director of Design Force, a leading brand-design consultancy.

LinkedIn: Ted Mininni