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Reevaluating Incremental Innovation

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Adecade ago INSEAD marketing professor Marcel Corstjens was consulting with employees at a multinational consumer packaged goods company about ways to rejuvenate one of its biggest brands. During three days of meetings, he found a one-hour presentation by the company’s R&D team deeply fascinating. But no one else did. “There were many ideas that could have been developed,” he says, “but at the end of the R&D session everyone said, ‘OK, let’s get back to the communications and advertising issues,’ and nobody ever talked about the R&D again.” It’s no secret that large CPG companies are marketing powerhouses, but this apparent disregard for R&D insights stuck with him. Although CPG companies rank far behind high-tech and health care companies in R&D spending, some do devote more than $1 billion a year to R&D. Corstjens wondered: What kinds of returns are they getting?


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