Imitate or Innovate?

The festive period has given us time to reflect on the events of the last year. We are truly grateful for our followers and readers. Thank you.

It has been a busy year of innovation for us. We continue to challenge ourselves and push our frontline experience to create simple, cost effective solutions to make a positive difference in our channel.

The question that always springs to mind is “Should we imitate what is out there already? Or beat a new path and innovate?”


In 2013, we announced our research project that looks to identify passenger expectations when travelling by air. How can we effectively understand shoppers if we have no perspective of what they expect? As retailers and brands, are we putting our cash in the right place to generate the best return on investment? Probably not.

We were the first to seek to understand passenger expectations and we know that at least 2 research companies in the channel are now also looking to understand shopper’s expectations. As they say, imitation is a form of flattery – we are already influencing the industry.

Of course, we anticipated imitation. It was what we set out to achieve. Our aim was to make our mark and demonstrate our capability of thought leadership in a complex channel. In essence, to be followed. We have achieved this goal.


The industry has talked a lot about doubling revenues in 5 years – a great ambition indeed. Such a step change requires us to think differently and to act at speed. Reliance on passenger number uplifts will not be enough to see this doubling of revenues. Innovation is key.

Over the next year we hope to continue to influence the industry. As a start, our aim is to use our extensive front line  experience to:

  • dramatically reduce the cost of shopper research to a fraction of today’s current approaches
  • improve the quality of shopper research
  • guide research teams take a central & pivotal role in the trading environment

When it comes to research, we are completely re-inventing it in our channel, transforming it in such a way that delivers incredible value. Current approaches such as country studies were once seen as the cornerstone of research in our channel however, developments in retailers perspectives have led some to question their appropriateness.

So, Imitate or Innovate?

Whilst imitation has it’s uses, innovation is where the big gains can be found. Innovation for me is not about re-inventing the wheel, it is about creating something new and yet elegantly simple that delivers powerful results. We have at least a 5 year (and growing) innovation pipeline that will generate a significant impact on the channel and help deliver the doubling of sales.

The question really then – “Is the channel ready for innovation?”.

What is your view on imitation vs innovation?

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