By Darrin Duber-Smith
Continued from Part One
Product Development is one of my favorite university courses to teach, and this important class we learn that there are three forms of innovation.
In most cases, it’s not really the ingredients that are innovative, but the finished product. And in every case, it is always the degree of consumer behavioral change required, and not the ingredient/product itself, that determines the type of innovation. It may sound academic, but what happens is that people in general become desensitized to words that they hear all the time such as “innovative, and when they are underwhelmed by what they see, it serves to further numb the target market to the marketing message. And I think we can all agree now that the vast majority of new products are continuous innovations. The real ground-breaking product, featuring an entirely new ingredient with an entirely new application, can only be introduced once. After that, successive products will be dynamically continuous or continuous innovations. As such, in almost all cases, “hot” ingredients are merely popular, and not really innovative.
Now let’s look at the patent process. In order to qualify for a patent in the U.S., an invention must be novel, involve an inventive step not obvious to a skilled person, and have an industrial application. If approved, the patent is exclusive for 20 years. Patents are awarded in personal care all of the time, mostly in the form of process and composition of matter inventions, but the vast majority of these do not require changes in consumer behavior, and so they cannot be considered innovations in any respect, and in too many cases the changes are things the consumer doesn’t even notice.
To Be Continued in Part Three
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