Innovation projects can be both invigorating and daunting. Effective ideation helps you get from point A to point B…with purposeful stops and detours along the way.     

A few years ago, a global foodservice provider engaged our team to support their ideation around two primary innovation platforms in the fresh food space. After conducting stakeholder interviews to understand the landscape and establish guardrails, we engaged the team in two days of in-person ideation sessions. Ultimately, participants came up with over 200 concept one-liners that evolved into 7 complete concepts for testing — the first of which will be going to market this Fall.    

But we all know the value of ideation sessions is much greater than the sheer volume of ideas generated. So, how did we translate those into quality concepts?    

It always starts with demand. Our approach to ideation kicks off with a grounding conversation: we discuss trends, consumer needs, and eating occasion dynamics, informed by our extensive intellectual capital like our Ideas in Food report and Compass Eating & Drinking Occasions Database.    

With that foundational understanding established, it’s tempting to jump right into tactical brainstorming around ingredients, flavors, formats, and packaging. But while ideation comes naturally to some, it takes a bit more guidance for others. We optimize engagement and blue-sky thinking through creativity-boosting exercises like partner face drawing, building concept “slot machines,” and more. Those might sound like a silly detour…but that’s the point. They work!   

Successful ideation should not stop there, because ideation also needs to end with demand. We work through another series of exercises to help refine and develop these ideas into full concepts for pressure testing. By leveraging demand space frameworks (watch for our upcoming white paper on this), concept scorecards and more, we help teams turn big ideas into actionable, demand-driven concepts.    

So now that we have your creative gears churning, let’s chat about how we can help bring your innovation pipeline to life. Connect with Shelley Balanko today for an introductory conversation:

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