Innovation as a Fetish

We’ve fetishized innovation. Nothing’s sexier to investors then the next, new, innovative product. Yet, nothing’s as misunderstood as innovation. Rarely do companies, large or small, take stock of whether they truly are cutting edge. That was clear at this year’s Consumer Electronics’ Show Asia.

Ten Steps Ahead

Nothing’s sadder than seeing a company that thinks they have a cutting-edge idea right next to something that’s been in China for years. Almost as bad are the endless copycats that really went all out on the latest fad (I’m looking at you, underwater drones). Like the old adage “…to be early is to be on time,” the same holds true here. Keeping up isn’t good enough. Now, you’ve got to be ten steps ahead of the pack.


Last year was all about being cutting-edge, good for the earth, and beneficial to society. It was clear this year harkened back to an earlier time. Now, exhibitors wanted to show they had that cool factor. In stressful times like these, consumers often want a release, a way to escape worries and fears. The electronics’ companies at this year’s show figured this fact out early, making sure their marketing efforts matched consumer sentiment drivers.

Go Big or Go Home

Along with tapping into drivers like fun, freedom, and being carefree, exhibitors were also making sure to grab attention by any means necessary. Massive, jaw dropping displays coupled with holographic imagery and immersive experiences got visitors begging for more. It was clear subtlety was out. Whether or not one likes it, in a competitive market like Asia you have to go big or go home. If you don’t do it, someone else is going to.

For multinational CPG and F&B companies, there are clear learnings here. Be ahead of the pack, fact check, and listen to consumers. Sure, these are the foundation blocks of brand positioning. But, somewhere in the quest for innovation we’ve left these critical basics behind.