Ariane van Mancius – Now|New|Next
Ariane van Mancius is the founder and owner of Now|New|Next, a boutique agency that specialises in supporting companies in their food and packaging innovation. She is a trendwatcher in product innovation, branding and design. Her additional interests lie in disposable and circular materials, millennials and eco-strategies.
Your best salesperson
According to Ariane, the main KPI’s for brand growth realise more than just growth alone. “Back in the days, word of mouth was a very important element in marketing. Today, there is a lot more going on than just people talking about your brand. Moreover, it’s not just about revenue anymore. For a brand to be relevant overtime, you need to connect to society, to your market. It’s about being relevant with a new target group or sharing your message in an entirely different way. As a brand, you need to have a meaningful story. Connecting with your consumer is important. After all, your consumer will become your best salesperson. They can be so engaged with your brand they will share your message with others and share your products. This form of marketing is different from what we have seen in the past. But at the same time, it’s really not. We are moving forward but going back at the same time. The traditional word of mouth might not be exactly the same as it is today, but there are lots of similarities. Today’s consumers purchase your brand, they might re-purchase it, and after that, you have a slight chance they would recommend it. Someone telling you to buy the product. Whether it being an influencer, a colleague or a friend. That’s where brand growth takes place.”
“There are a lot of opportunities when it comes to brand experiences.”
But, the main KPI for brand growth to Ariane is staying relevant. “You can come up with a lot of things whether it being price promotion, line extension or new products. But if they aren’t found relevant by your target audience, the products won’t be bought. It’s all about an experience, telling an authentic story. To me, this is where the food market is still lacking a bit. There are a lot of opportunities when it comes to brand experiences. And an experience is what you want to give to your consumers.”
Innovation: commercialising a great idea
To Ariane innovation has to do with commercialising a great sustainable idea, which is relevant and recognisable for consumers. “The idea can be anything, not only a product idea but also innovation in communication, packaging, activation. Innovation needs to be taken holistically – you need to look at it from all angles. It no longer needs to be taken from one single direction or thought.” She states that innovation needs to be fuelled by many sources. “Innovation can come from other countries, other industries. You have to have an open mind and a broader look than just your own product category.” Ariane describes that the main KPI’s for innovation to her, are volume and return-on-investment.
“Those who want a cheap ride, could get a nasty surprise in the end.”
According to Ariane, one of the biggest pitfalls of innovation is the performance anxiety of innovation teams. “They have to deal with the goals and sentiments of the management. While the management are limiting them to take the right decisions, the innovation teams are stretching themselves to develop greater innovations. I believe risk avoidance leads to a much different outcome.” Ariane describes that if there is not enough commitment from the top, the innovation processes are being traversed. “You have to have a clear innovation strategy and remain consistent with it. It’s common for an innovation (process) model not to be implemented in a company. Or lacks being consistent. Furthermore, it is the lack of recognition from management that innovation takes a lot of resource allocations. Money, people, time. Those who want a cheap ride, could get a nasty surprise in the end.”
According to Ariane, pitfalls often also lie in being too late or too early. “Tapping into consumer trends firstly requires a good understanding of those trends. For example, what is big and relevant and what is a niche, but also learning what the right time is to benefit from these trends.”
Ariane: “Innovations need to be relevant, credible, honest and authentic. Today’s consumers – millennials in particular – are looking for a real story behind an idea, which is closely related to the brand. People no longer buy from a brand that produces anything that might be profitable. Brands bringing out products no matter whether it fits with the brand or not, which is insufficiently credible. Today’s consumers want to buy innovations which relate to their preferred brand. Whether you call it a recommendation or word of mouth, we are al aspiring to reach it.