Incremental innovation: definition, interest and examples

Incremental innovation: definition, interest and examples


Innovation is proving to be an essential strategy for companies that have to deal with fierce competitiveness in an increasingly globalized world. Several strategies are then available to them, including incremental innovation.

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A low-risk choice that has many advantages and requires few resources.

Incremental innovation boils down to a kind of development, progress in terms of quality, performance and use of the version initially proposed. It can be, for example, to improve the design or the functionality of a product, to diversify or to complete a service. Ergonomics, capacity, technicality, components, price reduction, customer service, but also communication on the brand image, so many elements on which incremental innovation can act to satisfy demand, broaden the core target, gain market share and position itself as a leader.

A good incremental innovation strategy is based on an in-depth analysis of the company’s current offer and a qualitative study of the market, taking into account the various developments, industrial or technological, but also in terms of communication and modes of communication. consumption. Brainstorming, market research, competitive intelligence, satisfaction survey: the company will have to rely on concrete and relevant elements to find the appropriate innovation and compete in ingenuity.

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What are the benefits of incremental innovation?

For companies whose products are already on the market and known to consumers, incremental innovation offers them a double advantage: savings in terms of resources and time.

Indeed, the improvement of the good sold makes it possible to extend the life of a product or the quality of a service by a simple update, a new component or new characteristic, a technical supplement or services without requiring for such a considerable investment. Since the manufacturing process has not been completely reviewed, the market known, the competition and consumer expectations identified, the risk of error is therefore low.

Aside from research and development, the financial cost remains marginal, especially since a simple adaptation of the communication is enough for the prescribers and the target.

Saving time and money, a real showcase for the company on its ability to adapt, evolve and grow, this strategy strengthens customer perception and support. Incremental innovation thus makes it possible to consolidate its positioning and also provides it with the weapons to establish itself in new markets and monopolize other niches in a very short time.

Examples of incremental innovation

Incremental innovation is a strategy used in various fields of activity. Many brands have distinguished themselves in this gradual and continuous improvement of their offer without affecting its specificities, but by bringing a real plus: a real asset in terms of attractiveness, profitability and competitiveness.

Automotive sector

The automotive sector is a perfect example: ABS system, assisted driving, cruise control, ultra-connected dashboard, injection diesel engine, hybrid engine, ethanol converter… Car manufacturers regularly launch new versions of their vehicles with new features. The Golf, an emblematic model of the Volkswagen brand, has for example been produced in 7 different versions since 1974, each with minor changes. These modifications have always been made in line with customer needs, without ever changing the intrinsic specificities of the original model.

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Telephony sector

Constantly evolving telephony continually offers technological advances: battery life, internet connection, 5G network, Bluetooth, screen size, photo quality, applications… Apple is the perfect example with no less than 34 versions of its iPhone since 2007!

IT sector

Computing and more particularly computers follow a regular and constant incremental evolution since the release of the first models. The microprocessor, the real brain of the PC, has seen its capabilities and performance increase with progress in software manufacturing: ever faster and more powerful for almost instantaneous data processing and to the delight of workers and amateurs alike. of video games. The same goes for the operating system regularly adapted to new features (ergonomics, help with graphic creation, stylus instead of the mouse, etc.). The computer has thus become more than a work tool, a real “virtual” office. Moreover, the development of telework helps to establish its hegemony in everyday life.

On this line, the growth of online sales exploded during the health crisis. In order to cope with the losses caused by the administrative closures, more and more brands or small traders have chosen to offer an additional service to their customers by offering an online store. This type of incremental innovation through service has allowed them to sell their stocks on the web, thus ensuring on the one hand their turnover, but also the satisfaction of the confined customer.

Food sector

Large surfaces have for their part been able to adapt to changes in the rhythm of life with the establishment of the Drive. This example also illustrates the fact that certain periods can be conducive to this type of improvement. The periods of confinement during the Covid-19 crisis have in particular proved to be an accelerator of incremental innovation to meet the requirements of health protocols.

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The food industry is developing organic and additive-free ranges to meet growing consumer demand. Brands are also expanding their product lines that are already entrenched in the market. Chocolates, yogurts, crisps, biscuits: consumers regularly discover their favorite products with new variations of tastes and flavors. This incremental innovation strategy builds customer loyalty while gaining market share by reaching new targets hitherto sealed off from the base product.

Service sector

Service providers (bank, insurance, energy supplier, SaaS software or administration) are not left out. The vast majority of them offer online management interfaces and applications to manage your personal account at any time and on the move. They also add additional or complementary services to their basic offers to meet the expectations of ever more demanding customers. Incremental innovation is all the more present in web services, an extremely competitive field where technological developments are progressing at lightning speed. Companies must then be reactive so as not to see their users compete for more attractive services and prices.

So many examples that corroborate the value of incremental innovation and demonstrate a company’s ability to adapt and evolve with the times.

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