Innovation 40 years in the making

Heinz just launched a new ketchup packet.  “We created the packet in 1968, consumer complaints started around 1969″ said Dave Ciesinski, vice president of Heinz Ketchup. After 40 years of complaints, they now have a solution. 

In the 40 years since Heinz launched the ketchup packet, the company has seen much innovation.  Just not in the ketchup single serve variety.  The Heinz website states “Today, Heinz continues to elevate the science of product packaging to an art form.” Well, some people in the ketchup packet division must have taken a few vacation days off in the last 40 years. 

Although the new “Dip & Squeeze” packet is considered a ketchup ‘revolution’ it has been a long time in the making.  It wasn’t until two years ago that Heinz bought their packet design team a used minivan to “give their ideas real road tests.” 

Was this the first time the Heinz Ketchup team ever wrestled with this issue? I have to assume that somewhere, some time at Heinz there have been employees who have accidentally squeezed ketchup onto their clothes, had children who did the same, or who made a mess in the car trying to use the ketchup.  Did none of the employees use their own products?  You don’t have to be an anthropologist to put yourself in the customer’s shoes.  Where was the product manager?

Paula Gray
the anthropologist

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Categories: Anthropology, Design, Innovation and tagged , , .
  • http://www.evernet.com Omar Aloyoun | Product Marketing Manager

    That is true Paula. Totally agree.
    It have been raised 100 times in product managers’ minds why this happens in many FMCG companies(Fast Moving Consumer Goods), knowing that FMCGs (Proctor & Gamble) have invented the Product Manager function to the world in the 80s.
    The power of ideas comes in-line with the power of the internal innovation-readiness of the organization processing these ideas.

  • http://www.evernet.com Omar Aloyoun | Product Marketing Manager

    That is true Paula. Totally agree.
    It have been raised 100 times in product managers’ minds why this happens in many FMCG companies(Fast Moving Consumer Goods), knowing that FMCGs (Proctor & Gamble) have invented the Product Manager function to the world in the 80s.
    The power of ideas comes in-line with the power of the internal innovation-readiness of the organization processing these ideas.

  • http://www.twitter.com/PaulaGray Paula Gray

    Hi Omar,
    You make a good point, that companies may have plenty of data but not be ready to “hear” what the customer wants. Unfortunately some companies may create, develop and market what they think the customer wants, without ever involving the customer directly.
    Procter & Gamble actually created the position of the “brand man” back in 1931.
    Thanks for your thoughts!