Innovation

Innovation: What I just learned from “Schokopudding”.

Yummy pudding with 30% less sugar? How REWE, the leading German food retailer, taught us all a lesson about innovation that tastes good.

Daniel Terner 23.01.2018

“Less sugar” is just an idea. This packaging is the real innovation.

It was THE news of young 2018 in the retail marketing scene in Germany: Supermarket giant REWE just started a really integrated concept for lowering the sugar content of their own-label products. And they did it in such a clever way that I struggled to resist the temptation…

How did they do it?

They invented something I had never seen before: a kind of genius blend between “test-lab-kit” and ”takeaway-sales-support-measures” – all in the form of a “Schokopudding” (chocolate pudding).

You can see it in ads on every second billboard, and on TV, and online. And of course, you can find it in the cold section of your local supermarket – well, in Germany, at least ;-).

Tadaaa:

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Yep. That’s how they got me. I bought one, erm two of these sets of four chocolate puddings. And while I enjoyed getting lost in the nostalgic flavor of childhood summer holiday vibes, it suddenly hit me:

These 4 test cups are the perfect – and first – “edible 4-step plan” to innovation.

What? Ok. Wait a minute. Just take a look at the packaging and you will see it immediately:

1. They start right at their core competencies.

REWE is the leading food retail brand in Germany. In response to the organic food hype, competition from discounters, and lately also threats from food e-commerce, they try out and experiment a lot. That, in general, is already great.

But if you’re looking for truly differentiating innovations – it often helps to go straight to the heart of the brand itself. This is where the real treasures lie. In REWE’s case: The emotions of enjoying everyday life – with food.

The food retail market is tough and often a brand’s home turf is under attack these days from all directions: eroding margins, global competition, increasing consumer expectations, and new players including start-ups. Or mega trends… We’ll come back to that in a second. But first things first.

  • Our first takeaway from REWE’s concept: If you’re looking for innovation: start at your core. And discover the treasures waiting right there for innovation. In REWE’s case, their own-label product “Schokopudding”.

2. They are not only open for trends – they embrace ’em.

Trends can threaten the very core of a business or product. In REWE’s case, the applicable trend here is – oh my… – it’s really a MEGA trend: Healthy living. Self-optimization and all of that. In the world of healthy living, it’s kind of like sugar is the new nicotine.

That’s nothing new, of course. We all know that. But where to start cutting sugar? As a consumer? And what to do as a retailer?

Well: REWE got this one right as well. They didn’t just observe the trend, they embraced it. And they didn’t give up until they came up with a model to not only help their customers getting sensitized for the trend-driven change, but to experience it straight away, too.

  • Second takeaway: Trends are like waves. Try to get on top of them and surf ’em!

3. They turn an opportunity into bites to eat – and test them straight away.

Experiencing change – and be it only under the pressure of a trend as a consumer – often leaves you uncomfortable. And you may feel like it’s something you may not be able to handle.
REWE totally masters this challenge, too. How? Quite literally, they cut the big elephant “less sugar” into small and risk-free portions. So, we can all test how it tastes – “one dessert spoon at a time”. Great, isn’t it?

What makes it even better is that they applied a new test approach, too. Start-ups talk about “There’s no truth inside the building” – so, instead of traditional in-house testing, REWE turned their entire customer base into their test group.

  • Third takeaway: Radically focus on the customer. Leave the building. With an easy-to-understand and easy-to-experience product.

4. They really push the limits and get out of their comfort zone.

I can imagine what the decision-makers may have said when the team came up to them with that idea. “Really? TV ads with that? What if we don’t get a clear “winner”? And, wait a minute: you want to SELL them?” Well, I don’t know ;-). Perhaps everyone just cheered and celebrated the idea straight away, like I do – and I’m sure you do, too.

Be that as it may: With this, they truly did it. And this is the final takeaway for today:

  • Fourth takeaway: I call it the Lenny Kravitz doctrine: It ain’t over till it’s over!

Now. Don’t you just love it? And how does that apply to supply chain innovation or global trade?

Let’s discuss. I’m pretty sure you already have a lot of analogies and ideas in mind. Please share them. Here, or on XING, or LinkedIn.

About the author
Daniel Terner
Daniel Terner has been with AEB since 2003 and is a member of the Executive Board. Finding new business models to help customers advance their global trade and logistics – this is what drives him. His contributions focus on thinking outside the box.

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