Princes ‘reimagining’ NPD to deliver 'innovation fit for the 2020’s'

By Katy Askew contact

- Last updated on GMT

Princes unveils new innovation kitchen  / Pic: Princes
Princes unveils new innovation kitchen / Pic: Princes

Related tags: Innovation

Canned food, pasta and fruit juice maker Princes Group is investing £5m to shake-up its approach to innovation in a ‘unique partnership’ with specialist innovation agency Cubo.

The UK food company said that the investment will be rolled out over the next five years to ‘powerfully manage' consumer communities, Cubo expertise and a portfolio of national brands to create ‘breakthrough innovation’.

“Coupling our ground-breaking approach to innovation and product development with our rapid consumer co-creation communities with the power of the Princes Group brands will deliver exceptional products that have mass consumer appeal and are commercially powerful,”​ Mike Faers, founder and managing director at Cubo, predicted.

Innovation ‘fit for the 2020s’

Faers said that the partnership was taking a unique approach to innovation that would leave Princes well-positioned to respond to the rapidly evolving consumer environment.

“This approach to innovation is unique within the industry and does not exist anywhere else – it is innovation fit for the 2020’s as we lean into a new set of rules which we do not fully understand as yet. So flexibility and agility will be key to winning in food and beverage innovation,”​ he said.

“Cubo is built on bringing together the power of three – The Consumer, The Expert and The Client. The sweet spot of this Venn diagram is where we hunt for innovative solutions. Princes has shown great ambition and appetite to revolutionise their research and development operation. We expect that outputs of this partnership to be truly game-changing.”

A new innovation kitchen has been unveiled at the company’s headquarters in Royal Liver Building, Liverpool.

Princes also announced a number of new hires to bolster its innovation capacity, including Kevin Evans as head of innovation and NPD and Simon Stokes as senior development chef.

Princes have also merged their research and insights team with the innovation department to create a centralised marketing hub.

The aim is to build a team that will deliver ‘fast-paced’ innovation projects focused on brand creation, product design and development, packaging, commercialisation and channel strategy, the company said.

Princes hopes the move will deliver ‘rapid growth’ through ‘impactful innovation’. It has branded its approach ‘Innov8 by Princes’.

Innov8 will have four key areas of business focus - research and insight, product development, process and packaging and new category development. Existing new product development teams across the group will be supported by Innov8.

As well as delivering projects for the company’s branded portfolio, which include Napolina, Princes, Batchelors and Branston Beans, Innov8 will also provide support to Princes’ customers.

Putting the consumer ‘at the heart’ of NPD

Princes wants to base its new innovation strategy on deep consumer insights and a detailed understanding of shoppers. A bespoke online community of 800 UK consumers will be used for qualitative and quantitative research. This will provide immediate consumer insight that Princes believes will ensure ‘forward-thinking and commercially successful’ new product launches.

Alan Eriksen, marketing director at Princes Group, said: “Along with all other food and drink businesses, we are adapting to constantly evolving consumer needs. We’ve changed the way our brands look and feel. We’ve invested in our sites to build for the future. And now we’re reimagining our innovation and NPD process, and putting it right at the heart of our business.

“Innov8 by Princes, and the Cubo partnership, will deliver strategic food and beverage blue sky innovation. It is an industry first initiative and we expect this will redefine how we approach innovation and new product development. It will see our business adopt a new, agile approach to inspiring change, challenging the norm and driving success. Crucially, we’ll amplify the voice of consumers, who sit right at the heart of all the NPD decisions we take.”

Eriksen said that the COVID-19 crisis has shown just how quickly and dramatically consumer needs can change. He believes that the new approach to innovation will help future-proof the business.

“The coronavirus pandemic has drastically altered consumer behaviour and shopping patterns, so now is the time to listen and innovate as quickly as possible to respond to the changing needs of shoppers,”​ Eriksen suggested.

Princes expects the first product launches from Innov8 to reach market within the next 12 months.

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