“To be the best company we can be, we sniff out the future of snacking,” Wolf noted. “We seek out companies that are disruptive, that are the next wow in snacking.” Whether that be through such vehicles as venture capital, entrepreneurship, or investing in start-ups, it needs to add value to people’s lives. This can be through simply delighting the customer to adding more functionality or adding value to the brand. And this can further develop from the core of the brand.
The brand stands for something and then added incrementality serves the brand in a certain way. “Maybe there is an adjacency or connection to the brand,” added Wolf. “Or maybe a certain subset of consumers have been ignored for a while such as healthy oriented consumers.”
These emerging needs give rise to alternative opportunities for innovation. And the further out from your core, each time is incremental, and additive to drive growth. “To keep you and your brand relevant, innovation that’s incremental is what drives growth,” noted Wolf.
The incrementality is an extension of your brand, added Wolf. “From your core to breakthrough innovations, there is a brand purpose, a brand promise. But the connective tissue, the way it comes to life is the way you gain incrementality,” said Wolf, using an Oreo chocolate balls recipe as an example of the incrementality of the brand innovation. One takes usage and creativity and adds to it, using the value of recipes, and turning the core into a different functionality.
“It’s how to innovate on your core,” said Wolf. “Partnerships, fun things, speak to your core and push the envelope. For example, with Oreo Supremes, Game of Thrones, flavor packaging, Lady GaGa, and so on, it was really different ways to have the brand in the universe of playfulness. It’s not totally disconnected, you have to play in that space, or reason out why are you disruptive.”
Incrementality can also play into trade, such as different geographies and different retail channels, whether that’s mainstream grocery stores or vast new networks such as the rise of digital retail and the growth of the metaverse. “It’s like Coke. Oreo. You have to be within arm’s reach. There is incremental trade,” said Wolf.
“As a marketer, living in the digital space, you have to identify how to reach consumers and how to serve them. Collaboration. Logistics. To connect random companies together. Make innovation an incremental breakthrough in an incremental way,” said Wolf.
Wolf added, “If you choose the status quo, the brand will die. Disrupting yourself is what must happen. Be choiceful and specific. It’s not overnight. Keep pulse on your market and see where you are going.”
Some change is through necessity, such as the recent COVID pandemic. There was an acceleration. “We can change that radically too. There is the speed of innovation,” said Wolf.
With the customer changing, brands need to identify how to add value and find solutions. The incrementality comes into play as brands level it up. “How do you know when to cannibalize or disrupt?,” said Wolf. “Timing. Infrastructure. It’s not an easy answer. You have to see a need in the market. Testing the waters, and how to engage.”