Outside the box

Purpose over Innovation

2 months ago, I was walking through Lunch!, the most garish and loud trade show of them all. They prize themselves on having the most innovative exhibitors in the contemporary food-to-go sector. In keeping to the theme, they also host the Innovation Challenge Awards.

As soon as we walked in, a guy came up to me armed with a well practiced elevator pitch and a tray full of sample cups. “It’s made from all natural ingredients, has no calories, but has a strong caffeine kick”. Selling points that seemed all too familiar. Unfortunately the sample was not a coffee. It was essentially a B.Tech Redbull. Then to the next stand. “This is our vegan, gluten-free…”. Then the next. “This is our CBD-infused…”. After 10 or so similar pitches and similar samples, my stomach and patience were starting to lose strength.

It seemed that most of the start ups were attempting to tackle all of the industry trends, before talking about the product itself. The pitches start with the selling points and the product comes last. It’s as though the products have been reverse engineered. People see that certain ingredients or free-from sectors are doing well, and then they make a product. It is innovative, and even impressive, to make puffed lotus seeds infused with CBD but has anybody actually asked for it? Is it adding any value to people’s lives? Does it have a purpose further than innovation? To me, it seems that it’s unnecessary uniqueness for the sake of standing out.

The reason I bring this up now, is because recently a ‘consultant’ suggested we make more flavours to reach more demographics. To maybe add coconut milk, or maybe add orange flavouring. We have no intention to complicate an already seemingly pretentious drink. Cold brew has its hipster connotations, but in reality, it’s a very simple product and has a strong purpose. Our only intention is to show its true purpose. A ready-made coffee that has its own distinct and addictive taste. Great coffee on tap.

We didn’t make our drink to tick boxes but luckily it does hit quite a few industry trends. Vegan, gluten free, sugar free, calorie free, etc. But we made our drink, because we are passionate about good coffee, and making it as accessible as possible. In my eyes, the more selling points you shout about, the more you dilute your main purpose.

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