Innovation and creativity are essential in the consumer and retail sectors; they are literally what keeps it all going. The consumer world relies on relentless forward momentum, giving hungry consumers the next big thing, the next new thing, keeping things exciting and probably more relevantly, keeping plenty of us in a job!

We do lots of reading and thinking here at Seven and we are constantly confronted with the word ‘innovation’. Plenty of our clients demonstrate it at many points, and lots of our candidates are looking for that innovative culture in their next role. It’s a word often banded-about in Retail and Consumer but what does it really mean, and who can really say they’re bringing innovation to work every day?

‘A new idea, device or method’ is the definition of innovation. Taking for example the current supermarket race to reduce plastic packaging, how much of it can we really call innovative? Yes it’s positive, yes it’s overdue, yes it’s needed but surely it’s about reducing and reusing, not coming up with anything new?

And what about innovation in new trends and categories, such as health food, premium brands and snacking? We’ve seen the rise of plant food and protein-based bars, whilst organic, flavoured tonics sales have gone through the roof when we were once happy with Schweppes and own label. Without a doubt this is great for the consumer, bringing more choice and more control over their lifestyles but while it was new, it stops being so once the market quickly becomes saturated and the supermarkets have their own dedicated areas to it.

What we think makes more sense, is to use the word ‘creativity’. ‘A phenomenon where something new or valuable is formed’ (thanks once again, OED), the emphasis on the word ‘valuable’; is what we like here to describe most of what goes on around us in terms of the launch of the ‘new’ and ‘exciting’ in Retail and Consumer. Creativity is usually deployed in the design sense, or used to describe the look of something, but it can be applied far more widely in terms of development and functionality too; new forms of reusable, recyclable and biodegradable packaging for us are at the forefront of creativity in our sectors, and the recent explosion of vegan and ‘healthy’ branded snack options are the epitome of ‘new and valuable’ to those who love snacks and health (basically, all of us here).

So rather than just celebrating the ‘innovative’, let’s also celebrate the creative. There might be nothing new under the sun, but there’s always room for things that bring value.

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