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Nowadays, it seems like companies are constantly developing and launching the next revolutionary product, but in reality, most of them are focusing on subtle improvements rather than game-changing movements.

Innovation is a process through which companies think of and create novel solutions. The process doesn’t have to result in huge departures from product or business norms. Often businesses that spend more on marginal improvements to existing products tend to be more successful than those focusing on game-changing innovations.

And that’s what incremental innovation is. Companies can use it to remain relevant, retain customers, and balance their innovation portfolios. Here’s what you need to know about this small but important form of innovation and why it’s a valuable tool for any business.

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    Incremental Innovation – by definition

    The term “incremental innovation” refers to a series of small improvements made to a company’s existing offerings. Generally, these low-cost improvements help further differentiate a company from the competition while building on current offerings.

    “This is not innovation that brings new tech in, it also doesn’t give a look at new markets. But always finds a way to improve existing concepts in one way or another.” says Patrycja Franczak, leading consultant of marketing and innovation at

    On the opposite, we have radical innovation, which introduces a brand new product or service designed to replace an existing one. Radical innovations dramatically alter the consumer landscape and leave the status quo far behind. And we find those innovations more exciting than their incremental counterparts. But in this case, the expense and risk they present necessitate caution.

    The Benefits

    The companies launch over 30,000 new products each year—and a whopping 95 percent of them fail (according to the research of Harvard Business School professor).

    While it’s sometimes necessary to take that huge risk, it’s also good to introduce incremental innovation into your firm’s profile. Why?

    1. You Diversify Your Product Portfolio

    People want new things, but they don’t necessarily want to learn new things. It’s easier sometimes for incremental innovations to get accepted because they are so familiar.

    Invest part of your research and development budgets in incremental innovation. That way you provide businesses with an infusion of cash that will sustain the business as you work towards more game-changing innovations.

    2. The Relevance

    Even the most popular products get regularly updated to stay relevant. Through incremental innovation, companies can retain their market share and customers while remaining relevant in the very competitive world we live in. Incremental innovations allow businesses to stay in front of buyers while taking on smaller risks that, if unsuccessful, pose a smaller financial concern.

    3. Business Longevity

    Radical innovations are important elements of an organization’s long term strategy, but in the shorter term, upgrades to existing products keep customers interested in your business. If you stay with the product portfolio you have right now, you can be gone in two or three years because for sure, someone else will come up with something interesting and taken all of your customers away.

    Aside from continually reminding consumers of your company, incremental innovation prolongs the market life of a product or service. Instead of completely replacing the old, a company can spend a relatively smaller amount of money to update a popular product. This newness is often enough to keep consumers’ attention.

    Please note, that incremental innovation may be lower risk and require less capital, but you’ll still need strong support systems and a company culture that rewards creative thinking and the execution of ideas. can give you the tools you need to motivate teams, create a culture of innovation, and apply bold ideas to your company’s offerings and practices. We offer you hands-on experience in researching customer needs, developing new business concepts, and testing ideas. Market research, critical thinking, and analytical skills are essential to successfully introducing innovation and this is exactly what our team has to offer.

    More on embracing innovation

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      Patrycja Franczak

      Author Patrycja Franczak

      She runs company where she cooperates with many fashion companies helping them to strategically define, move toward and manage the future amid the challenges of uncertainty and change - to improve business performance and manage change.

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