Innovation at Heinz
A Heinz case study

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Page 1: Introduction

Heinz 3 Image 4At one time, certain businesses operated in static environments, whereas others operated in dynamic environments. Today, the majority of businesses operate in a dynamic environment. The ability to cope with the pace of change in this environment distinguishes the successful from the less successful business. This case study examines the way in which one successful company has planned to surf the wave of change.

Traditionally, Heinz UK has been successful at exploiting the strong assets of the company - achieving excellence in manufacturing and developing and building the strengths of its brands. Heinz remains one of Britain's best loved and trusted brand names. However, many changes are occurring in the marketplace, as organisations react to consumer demand. Some changes are ongoing and relatively small in nature, whereas others involve giant steps forward. A considerable amount of courage is required for an organisation to bring about major changes rather than simply following others. However, the most successful organisations are often those that are prepared to imagine what was previously unimaginable.

Great potential exists for an organisation like Heinz to explore new opportunities and to market new products which meet the changing needs of a more sophisticated consumer - i.e. to deliver real step change innovation.

Ringing the changes

Successful companies must be capable of honest self-assessment. Identifying potential areas for improvement involves asking “Is this all we should be good at?” Heinz could simply have looked at the existing portfolio, including products such as Heinz Tomato Soup, Heinz Baked Beans, Heinz Tomato Ketchup etc. and sat back to exploit these brands which were yielding year on year profit growth. Instead, Heinz decided to look to the future. 1997 would be the year for addressing step change innovation - developing new skills with a strong external focus.

The programme started in the summer of 1996, supported by an innovation agency with extensive marketing, production, advertising and research skills. The agency specialises in helping organisations come up with new ideas. Its brief was twofold:

  1. to develop and bring to market exciting new products which really meet the needs of today’s consumers
  2. to introduce a Heinz culture of innovation.

Heinz | Innovation at Heinz