Articles & Case Studies by Industry

Food & Beverage

Setting Up the Innovation ‘Shop’: Former Starbucks VP Shares Her Advice

Former Darden Restaurants and Starbucks exec Rachel Antalek says that getting started was the hardest part of responding to the ambiguous instruction to “set up a disruptive innovation team.” She shares the advice she wishes she’d gotten at the outset…

Dunkin’ Brands: How a Business ‘Built on Ritual’ is Getting More Digital

Chief Digital Officer Scott Hudler tells us that in 2017, “the innovation piece of our business is becoming more and more important to us, because we’re fighting some incredibly well-capitalized competitors in McDonald’s and Starbucks. If the analogy is ‘Moneyball,’ then we’re the Oakland A’s.” Hudler discusses kiosks, intelligent virtual assistants, delivery, and driving app downloads…

How Mehmood Khan is Remaking R&D at PepsiCo, with an Emphasis on Sustainability

We talk with PepsiCo vice chairman Mehmood Khan about the links between sustainability and innovation; why diversity isn’t only about hiring people who look different; bringing in new skill sets into R&D, like computer modeling; the challenge of measuring progress; and how he’s trying to change thinking in the company’s 30 R&D locations.

Dennis McGrath on How Starbucks Tests New Ideas in the Real World

Dennis McGrath, VP of Global Ops Innovation at Starbucks, explains how the coffee retailer developed a new protocol for testing ideas in small numbers of stores. McGrath also discusses when to bring in other business stakeholders, the failure-tolerant culture at Starbucks, and a new store format. Includes 30 minutes of downloadable audio…

Designing For Women — Advice From PepsiCo

PepsiCo Director of Global Design Innovation Erica Eden explained some of her principles of “Designing for Women” at the Front End of Innovation conference recently, touching on topics such as where women’s brands go wrong; how men’s brands aren’t afraid to create “tribes”; and the steps companies should take to better understand and appeal to their women consumers. Her advice inside…

Inside Target’s Food + Future coLab

The idea behind the creation of the coLAB, as founder Greg Shewmaker explains it, is that “we know less about our food than we ever have at any other time in history. We want to do something about it. I don’t want to go sell more Greek yogurt or healthy products. I want to go do something big, and fix some big problems.” Photo gallery inside…

Coca-Cola shutters its Founders initiative, which backed fledgling startups

Coca-Cola has shut down its Founders program, which sought to work with entrepreneurs and invest in startups that would benefit the beverage giant in some way. The initiative was launched in 2013, and since then has backed eight companies. One possible cause? A back-to-basics focus on the core business.

Examples: How companies are using Indiegogo to assess consumer demand

Indiegogo SVP Jerry Needel explains how companies like GE and Hasbro have been using crowdfunding as a way to gauge consumer demand for new products — or engage collaborators in new ways. Needel also shares his advice. “We always counsel people to be authentic: who they are, what they’re trying to accomplish, and where they’re coming from,” he says.

Inside the ‘AnyWare’ digital strategy at Domino’s Pizza

Betting big on digital has been very good for Domino’s Pizza, the nation’s second largest pizza chain by sales and locations, after Pizza Hut. In its latest quarterly earnings report, the Ann Arbor, Michigan company said same-store sales grew by 10.7 percent at its domestic franchise locations. Chief Digital Officer Dennis Maloney explains how they’ve been doing it…

How Weight Watchers is innovating in a relationship-based business

Global Vice President of Innovation Dondeena Bradley talks about driving multiple new initiatives aimed at transforming Weight Watchers into a holistic, community-driven company.

How GE is using crowdfunding site to test demand for new products

The story of the Opal ice maker is an early case study of how a large organization leveraged crowdsourcing and crowdfunding to get a new concept in front of consumers fast.

How Taco Bell accelerated progress on digital and mobile initiatives

When Taco Bell tried to deliver new digital and in-store technologies for its customers and team members, the quick-service restaurant chain felt like it wasn’t able to move fast enough. A recently-formed 20-person team focused on Digital Innovation and On Demand is changing that. We talk to leader Lawrence Kim.

How Jamba Juice is becoming more than just a smoothie store

In recent years, Brian Lee, vice president of product innovation at Jamba Juice, has engineered a number of new product launches, expanding Jamba’s reach in beverages with fresh-squeezed juices and making a leap into the healthy food space with energy bowls. Lee lays out the steps Jamba goes through in developing a new food or drink idea.

Mondelez shares new approach to pilot testing with startups, retailers

Kim Yansen of Mondelez (think Chips Ahoy and Trident gum) talks with Innovation Leader about latest iteration of the $34 billion food company’s Shopper Futures program; the risks involved in working with startups; and the ways that consumers’ changing habits are forcing companies to be more nimble and forward-looking.

General Mills innovation EVP on becoming ‘best big small company’

Peter Erickson, executive vice president of Innovation, Technology, and Quality for General Mills, is focused on a very clear goal: to help the company, with 43,000 emloyees and brands like Cheerios, Nature Valley, and Betty Crocker, become “the best big small food company in the world.” Here’s our exclusive interview on how he’s doing it…

Why it’s crucial to understand your company’s innovation DNA

Was your company born to disrupt established industries? Or is its heritage in marketing and distribution, building brands that are recognizable around the world? Maybe the way your company obtains new products is by acquiring small startups. Every company has different DNA, which means innovation approaches need to differ.

Starbucks VP on working with Howard Schultz to bring idea to life

Howard Schultz, the founder and CEO of Starbucks, had a vision that he’d been developing for a decade. He wanted to create a shrine to coffee in Seattle, the company’s hometown, where visitors could learn about the bean and the beverage, immerse themselves in the Starbucks brand, and watch as it “rained coffee beans.” VP Liz Muller was asked to make the vision real.

Coke’s David Butler on building a program for ‘exponential growth’

VP of Innovation and Entrepreneurship David Butler talks about his work to combine entrepreneurial ideas and speed with Coca-Cola’s scale and brand power. Includes a half-hour of downloadable audio.

Hershey’s exec on metrics, learning, and focusing innovation

Deborah Arcoleo, Director of the Advanced Innovation Center of Excellence, talks about how Hershey’s thinks about innovating beyond its product portfolio; how they measure innovation impact; training and capability development; and ensuring continued management buy-in for the innovation team. Includes audio and slides…

How Panera Bread reinvented its customer experience

Blaine Hurst, the Chief Technology and Transformation Officer at Panera Bread, explains how he worked with CEO and founder Ron Shaich to design and test the “Panera 2.0” concept, working out of a single cafe near Boston’s Fenway Park.

How Beech-Nut innovated within a ‘category in decline’; rigor + speed

In 2012, Beech-Nut acknowledged that it had a problem. Moms were no longer relying on baby food from the supermarket, and they regarded homemade food as the gold standard. “We realized we needed to completely innovate across the total product offering,” says Beech-Nut exec Andy Dahlen. Here’s how they did it…

General Mills shares learnings, pitfalls on open innovation

Mike Helser, head of the General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network, shares what the $17.8 billion consumer packaged goods company has learned from its open innovation experiences. We’ve got slides, steps for porting his model, and details on his “X-Squad.”

Why Coke is hiring founders & holding failure conferences

VP of innovation and entrepreneurship David Butler shares the experiments Coke is trying internally and externally as a way to “regenerate the culture” of the 150,000 employee company, including hackathons to improve its soda dispensers and conferences focused on learning from failure. Above, two employees present an idea at Coke’s first employee Startup Weekend, held in June 2013.