Globalization and technological advancement have enhanced the awareness levels of modern consumers and the growing competition among businesses have resulted in a shift of power from the hands of marketers to that of the consumers (Panwar, 2001). Today, consumers keep demanding something new and this has shortened the shelf-life of products. Markets are highly volatile and innovation has therefore emerged as a feasible strategic option for long-run survival and growth of contemporary businesses. But firms often ignore the importance of marketing their newly innovated ideas and as such, the invention never converts into an innovation (Kelley, 2012). It is very important for contemporary firms to understand that mere invention would not generate revenues if that invention is not marketed successfully.
Marketing aspect of innovation
The term ‘innovation’ is commonly used to refer the introduction of something new. But technically speaking innovation is rather a broader concept. Roberts (1987) stressed upon an important aspect of innovation; commercial exploitation. He established;
“innovation = invention + exploitation”
Thus, innovation means a new idea or item that has been commercially exploited (Kaiser et al., 2011). In the absence of any business application of innovation or its commercial exploitation, the invention will never convert into an innovation and innovators will not be able to earn returns against their massive innovation investments. Both internal communication and external marketing are extremely important to get value out of an innovation. The internal communication relates to all the innovation-related communication that takes place among different departments, especially between R&D and Marketing departments. Marketing executives take that innovation to the target customers through external marketing and therefore it is important that marketing department understands the innovation in same way as that of the research department.
Why promotion of innovation is important?
In order to make innovation accepted by the target customers, first of all it is important that the innovation is observed by them. Unlike past, innovation today is not limited to the big firms offering them enough chance to get noticed. Globalization has posed severe challenges to the survival of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). As a result, these firms have started realizing the importance of innovation for their survival and growth, and have enhanced their innovation efforts (OECD, 2000). Thus, it can be said that the competition today extends not only to innovating first, but also communicating the innovation first among target customers. Innovation winners are often not the ones who have introduced a revolutionary idea but the ones who have successfully marketed the innovation to targeted masses. It is because even the best technological innovations may fail if they are not observed and accepted by target customers (Kelley, 2012). In the absence of any marketing initiatives by innovator, innovation may successfully grab the attention of early adopters, but it is almost impossible to grab the attention of masses. Mass market must be able to access innovation and understand its potential benefit (Bajarin, 2013). Innovators must not only aware the target masses but also educate them about how this innovation fits into their lives. As such, value translation is very important for the success of an innovation. Marketing translates innovation’s benefits to the masses and motivates them to adopt the innovation (Kelley, 2012). However, the channels of marketing, timing of such marketing and the competitive scenario must also be considered in order to commercialize the innovation successfully.
History shows that even the leading firms like Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Kodak suffered heavy losses due to negligence towards commercializing their innovations. While HP failed to commercialize its e-book, an innovation during mid 1990s which could have been a major success; Kodak failed to commercialize digital photography (Tellis, 2013). Therefore, the firms need to understand that differentiation is not earned simply by innovating, rather by marketing and translating the value of that innovation effectively. Innovation creates value for customers, but value-creation has no meaning without value-translation and value-communication (Kelley, 2012).
- Bajarin, B. (January 14, 2013). “For Now, Marketing is More Important than Innovation.” Retrieved from: http://techpinions.com/for-now-marketing-is-more-important-than-innovation-2/13685
- “Enhancing the Competitiveness of SMEs through Innovation.” (June, 2000). Workshop 1. Conference for Ministers responsible for SMEs and Industry Ministers. Bologna: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
- Kaiser, S. & Ringlstetter, M. (2011). Strategic Management of Professional Service Firms. Springer.
- Kelley, B. (November 6, 2012). “Push or Pull Marketing for Innovations?” Retrieved from: http://bradenkelley.com/Push-or-Pull-Marketing-for-Innovations.pdf
- Panwar, J. (2001). “Market Orientation or Product Value: What should be the choice of Indian Firms?“ Delhi Business Review. Vol. 2, No. 2, July – December 2001.
- Tellis, G. (2013). “Creating a Culture for Unrelenting Innovation.” Retrieved from: http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~tellis/MWorld.pdf