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  • Writer's pictureKristin Harper

5 Types of Innovation and How to Decide Which Is Right for Your Brand

In the fiercely competitive business landscape, innovation isn't just a buzzword—it's an imperative. As a marketer, product manager, or market researcher, understanding the various types of innovation is crucial in propelling your brand forward. This blog will walk you through the five types of innovation and provide insights into selecting the right one for your brand ensuring your brand stays ahead.

1. Product Innovation

Product innovation involves developing new products or significantly improving existing ones. It's about creating value for customers through unique features, and cutting-edge or even incremental technology. This type of innovation can position your brand as a leader in your industry, appealing to a consumer base that constantly seeks the next best thing.

An excellent example of product innovation in 2023 is the adoption of foldable screen technology by smartphone manufacturers. This technology revolutionizes the user experience by combining the convenience of a smaller, pocket-sized smartphone with the benefits of a larger screen.

Brands like Samsung have taken the lead with their Galaxy Z Fold series, by not only enhancing the display but also integrating unique software features that leverage the folding capability, thereby offering consumers a novel and versatile device. This innovation reflects how understanding and anticipating consumer needs can drive product development and differentiate a brand in a crowded market.

To determine if product innovation is right for your brand:

  • Assess market needs and consumer trends to identify gaps your product could fill.

  • Analyze your company's resources and capabilities to meet development demands.

  • Consider the potential return on investment and the product's life cycle.

2. Brand Positioning Innovation

This type of innovation involves repositioning a product in the market or finding new demographics. It's not about changing your offering, but about changing how customers perceive it. By combining social listening, consumer segmentation, and market research, brands can tap into new markets or refresh their appeal in current segments.

A notable example of position innovation is Starbucks' repositioning through its "third place" concept. Originally, coffee shops were viewed merely as places to get coffee on the go. However, Starbucks revolutionized this perception by positioning its cafes as a "third place" between home and work where people could relax, meet, or work on their laptops. This innovative positioning attracted a diverse range of customers beyond just coffee lovers, expanding its market reach and solidifying its brand as an integral part of daily life for millions globally. The introduction of comfortable seating, free Wi-Fi, and a welcoming atmosphere shifted the consumer perception of what a coffee shop could offer.

Consider brand positioning innovation when:

  • Your product has untapped potential in unexplored market segments.

  • Changes in market dynamics have shifted consumer behavior.

  • You look to revive or rebrand an existing product to align with emerging trends.

3. Paradigm Innovation

Paradigm innovation overhauls the underlying business models and shifts the company's approach to its market. This often requires a cultural shift and can lead to significant changes in how a company operates and how value is delivered.

Paradigm innovation involves a fundamental change in how a business operates or defines itself. It's when a company shifts its entire business model to adapt to market changes or create new opportunities.

A prime illustration of paradigm innovation is Netflix's shift from DVD rentals to a streaming service model. When the company started, its primary business was mailing DVDs to customers—a service that competed with traditional video rental stores. However, as technology advanced and high-speed internet became widely available, Netflix underwent a transformative change in its business model. They bet on streaming video content directly to consumers, tapping into the unexplored market segment of on-demand internet entertainment. This move not only disrupted traditional media consumption models but also propelled Netflix into a leading position in the emerging online streaming space, effectively creating a whole new industry that's now crowded with competitors like Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Disney+.

To leverage paradigm innovation, consider:

  • The potential to disrupt or create a new market through a shift in business model.

  • The adaptability of your company to substantial changes in operations and strategic direction.

  • The ability to foresee and react to fundamental shifts in consumer behavior and technology.

Opt for paradigm innovation if:

  • The market landscape is changing rapidly, and your current business model isn't sustainable.

  • Your brand needs a radical shift to remain relevant.

  • There's an opportunity to redefine an existing market or create a new one.

4. Platform Innovation

Platform innovation is about leveraging a foundation of existing products, technologies, or services to expand into new offerings. Effective platform innovation allows for scalability and can lead to diverse revenue streams.

One prominent example of a food and beverage brand that has effectively used its technology to expand into new products and engage with new consumer audiences is The Coca-Cola Company. Their innovative Freestyle machines, which enable customers to mix their own personalized drinks from a variety of Coca-Cola products, leveraged touch screen technology and real-time data collection to provide unique value to both consumers and the brand. 

These machines not only offered a novel, interactive beverage experience but also gathered valuable consumer preference data. This data has been employed by Coca-Cola to analyze trends and develop new flavors and products that align with consumer desires, such as the Coca-Cola Cherry Vanilla. Plus, by using unique digital marketing campaigns and consumer interaction tools, Coca-Cola has been able to expand its audience, tapping into the desire for individualized products while growing its market intelligence. 

The latest innovation, Coca-Cola Freestyle 8100, sets out to not only “deliver a revolutionary beverage experience for diners, but also to make the job of foodservice crews easier,” said Ren Powell, Director, Platform Innovation, Coca‑Cola Freestyle. Its features solve common drive-thru challenges, including speed, order accuracy, and ease of use and maintenance for crews.

Platform innovation might be suitable if:

  • Your brand has strong foundational elements that can be built upon.

  • You aim to broaden your reach and create an ecosystem around your brand.

  • You observe a need for interconnected products or services within your market.

5. Process Innovation

Process innovation refines the ways in which products or services are created and delivered, aiming to enhance efficiency, quality, and customer service. By optimizing operational processes, companies can reduce costs, increase speed, and maintain or improve quality.

For example, Tesla implemented manufacturing automation in its factory in Fremont, California, using advanced robotics and automated machinery to streamline the production of electric vehicles. This automation not only accelerates the assembly line but also ensures precision and uniform quality. As a result, Tesla has significantly reduced labor costs, minimized human error, and increased production output, solidifying their status as a leader in the automotive industry.

In addition, Lean Six Sigma experts, integrating fresh new thinking and approaches through processes like Better Ideaz brainstorming from Driven to Succeed can lead to unique approaches to solving real-world problems. 

Decide on process innovation if:

  • You want to cut costs and improve margins without altering the product itself.

  • Your operations landscape has room for improvement through technology or methodology enhancements.

  • You are looking to streamline the customer journey for better satisfaction.

Building Credibility Through Innovation

Choosing the right type of innovation for your brand hinges on a robust understanding of your market, resources, and business goals. As a market research company specializing in delivering profound insights, then Translating Insights into ‘So What’ and ‘Now What’™  our role is to partner with you in making data-driven decisions. We provide robust analysis and strategic recommendations to navigate the complex weave of innovation possibilities. Our expertise lies in uncovering market opportunities, inspiring insights, and collaborating with your team to position your brand for future success.

Innovation is not one-size-fits-all. Your brand's unique circumstances dictate which innovation path to take. By considering the types of innovation outlined here and their relevance to your brand's context, you can select a strategy that aligns with your company's vision and market position.

Remember, the market landscape is never static, just as the quest for innovation is never-ending. There's no better time to quest for the new, the improved, and the undiscovered—with the right knowledge and the right partner, your brand can reach unprecedented heights. 

To explore how to unlock in-depth, personalized insights for your brand, contact our team at Driven to Succeed —we're dedicated to powering your brand's next innovation journey.


Driven to Succeed is an award-winning market research and consulting firm that connects the dots to unleash growth for mid-market companies and Fortune 500 brands. We are powered by a team with multiple zones of genius who use empathy, intuition and insights to help brands grow, and people thrive. Our expertise includes research, analytics, brand management, and marketing in Consumer Packaged Goods, Healthcare Biopharma, Food & Beverage, Financial Services and beyond. Learn more at

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