Flemming Morth – Royal Swinkels Family Brewers

Flemming Morth – Royal Swinkels Family Brewers

Flemming Morth is Head of Centre of Innovation at Royal Swinkels Family Brewers, known for its iconic brands like Bavaria, Swinckels’, 8.6, Cornet and Palm. Flemming is responsible for building a healthy innovation pipeline across markets, improving the company’s process, capability and collaboration.

The main driver for brand growth

Flemming: “Brand growth is all about shaping the consumers liking and behaviour in favour of our products. It is key that a brand continuously reaches new consumers who find it appealing and want to pay for the value the product delivers.”

Flemming explains that innovations drive further penetration of their brands. “Successful innovations help brands to reach new consumers and stay top of mind with existing consumers.”

How innovation leads the change of habit

An important element of changing people’s habits is to be innovative. Flemming: “Our job as innovators is about making change happen for the better, and often that also leads to a change in behaviour for the customer. It is up to us to make that change as easy as possible for those who benefit from the innovation.”

Flemming believes that innovation will come from within: “A good company culture needs an environment where colleagues can feel responsible and take ownership and get support from senior management.”

The main source for innovation

According to Flemming, it’s important to stay in touch with trends and developments. “Innovation and ideas can come from many sources: trends, research, technical advancements, different markets and categories as well as from people with very different backgrounds and areas of expertise. It’s about combining those ideas with those of our industry.”

According to Flemming, the most significant trend in innovation is sustainability. “Waste reduction is a big theme. Just look at the amount of packaging we use on a daily basis. Innovating to improve sustainability has become much more relevant and the innovations in that field will most likely lead to a change in behaviour.”

Flemming explains an example of how they gained a particular insight. “We did an exercise with respondents where they had to cluster different pictures of beers. We noticed that one of the respondents slightly separated one of the pictures of a particular beer brand. But, instead of asking him why this beer brand was special, we asked him when he started to drink beer of this brand. He told a story about how his father introduced him to the beer. A person he trusts recommended it to him. This led to an insight and innovation question: ‘How can we get more people to recommend brands between different generations?’ Sometimes we jump to the ‘why’ questions too early and focus too much on the product attributes rather than to the situation. The consumer doesn’t always know the answer to the why question, so they construct reasoning. I find that asking the ‘when’ question often leads to fresh and different insights which we can innovate against.”

Biggest challenges and pitfalls

Flemming: “Some companies want to get instant gratification, but innovation often doesn’t work like that. Innovations sometimes need more time to get adopted by consumers. Because companies want to get instant gratification, those innovations ‘fail’. But you could also make a case that we are too impatient. Timing is critical, but a difficult factor to deal with in innovation. Sometimes it’s good to kill an innovation that does not sell, but I recommend keeping it in the freezer and re-evaluate it every few years to learn if the time is right.”

“Continual learning from success and failures is key to innovating. Within Royal Swinkels Family Brewers, which is fully family owned: entrepreneurship, continual learning and improvement are cornerstones for the long-term vision of handing over a sustainable company to the next generations.”

Flemming: “Innovation is hard work. You need to continuously explore and test how to best help consumers realise the goals that are salient in a given situation. When you do this well it will lead to innovations that bring brand growth and hopefully happy consumers.”