An overview of innovation types to create more opportunities that rock the future

First insight: Simple product relaunches with endless development loops cannot secure success for your business in our digital age. It is essential, to broaden own perspectives – cross-market and cross-industry + across different innovation types. That is the only way to identify and successfully create valuable business opportunities. What are different innovation types about? What are best practices?

In our EARLY BRANDS insight, we give a short overview and inspiration …

There are several types of innovation – from processes, product and services through to new business model innovations.


BUSINESS MODEL INNOVATIONS occur whenever new or improved business models satisfy customer needs better than existing business models do. New disruptive ideas that turn whole markets upside down. New technology-based opportunities that create new customer needs and market requirements. Two of many examples for business model innovations in our digital age: Blockchain-based P2P energy network LO3 Energy that enables people to autonomously and directly sell their private generated energy to other individuals so that no commercial energy supplier is needed. HP’s “Device as-a-Service“ by which computer hardware and software is adapted to changing customer needs across customer lifecycles automatically.

ORGANISATIONAL INNOVATIONS pursue the goal to restructure, strengthen and optimize organization structures. Thus, competitive edge is obtained from inside a company. That means to steer companies and their organization in the right directions for the digital age. Collaboratively rock forward. Create startup atmosphere. Make room for new ideas and innovations. Adidas‘ realization of an agile leadership, or cultural changes such as Kulturwandel 4.0 of OTTO Group make clear: agility and an open culture are not only a startup thing.

NETWORK INNOVATIONS implicate the common development of innovations by combining the specific competencies of different value adding partners. Successful examples like Spreadshirt that offers t-shirt designed by customers, P&G’s open innovation platform “Connect & Develop” or the collaboration of Starbucks & McDonalds to jointly develop sustainable coffee-to-go-cups make clear: co-creative power is more important than competition to accelerate success in the digital age.

Bunte Glühbirne vor grauer Wand Kreativität

Quickly develop, test and realize your innovation ideas: together with strong partners + customers + employees.


PROCESS INNOVATIONS as innovations / improvements of material or informational processes of a company are very diversified. It is not merely about investing in new machines or innovative robots but rather to creatively find new ways for cost reduction, quality and efficiency improvements. Some best practices: Nike uses generated data form sneaker-customization to attune their product development to customer preferences. By introducing KWITT, Sparkasse enables their customers to easily and quickly make bank transfers by mobile phone. KLM Airlines improved their on-boarding process by innovative face recognition technologies

PRODUCT INNOVATIONS are probably the most known innovation type when we think about innovations. Whether new or further developed products: we can see product innovations almost every day. Tesla‘s solar roof makes green energy more aesthetically pleasing. Samsung‘s fully digital flipchart leads to quicker creative sessions and workshops. Lilium Jet’s unmanned flying taxis will autonomize airlifts. These are only three of a huge amount of product innovations that will ease our lives in the digital age.

SERVICE INNOVATIONS including service products + product-related services are essential to inspire customers and millennials in our digital age. Examples like Forsquare‘s location-based-services by which customers get recommendations for restaurants or shops nearby, Amazon’s same-day-deliveries or innovative 24/7 AI sales chat bots like ubiSELL make clear, that service innovations across the customer journey are very valuable.

Service Innovation: Chat bots are working for us already today: from news-tickers, virtual friends and health adviser through to city registration assistants.


PACKAGING INNOVATIONS are a great way to enhance convenience, reduce costs, and proactively push sustainability forward. A few examples: alternative, zero waste bamboo packaging by Universial Biopack. Edible packaging made by algae from Evoware. Innovative packaging technologies from Mimica Touch that enable customers to judge shelf life of goods in a more reliable way than today’s best before dates do.

BRAND INNOVATIONS support differentiation in today’s jungle of supply. It is necessary, to adapt conceptual as well as emotional brand perspectives to markets and rapidly changing customer needs. Thus: increase customer experiences, create emotional attachments, extent target groups. Telekom for example uses its sub-brand Congstar to win new, younger target groups that have no affinity to Telekom or Magenta services. Nivea successfully attracts men as new customers for their beauty products due to sub-brand Nivea Men. Share-Now enables everybody to drive and experience whether BMW, Smart or rather Mini.

ACTIVATION, ATMOSPHERE, CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE play a major role within the noise level of our digital age. Based on increasing speed and dynamics of our markets, customers seek for variety. At the same time, they are unable to cope with the extensive offers and options. Thus: Catch their attention. Create buying decisions as experiences. Inspire customers. Some great best practices: L`Oreal uses augmented reality to enable customers to try their beauty products virtually at home. High-tech-experience-store by Tiens lets customers experience products in an interactive and educational way. Babor cooperates with popular influencers to offer their luxury beauty products online with high media penetration rates.

Erweiterte Realität durch App im Handel

Activation Innovation: mixed-realities can be used in many ways – increase customer activation and experience.  


CHANNEL-INNOVATIONS more and more appear in our „pop up economy “. Thereby, focus is to improve existing channels as well as to exploit new ones. For example: Amazon as giant successful online retailer makes use of temporary shops like Pop Up Liquor Bar in Tokyo and opened stationary sales points with Amazon Book Stores. Also, direct-to-consumer channels like online platform Etsy that connects craftsman, designers and artists with potential customers directly, more and more become popular.

Our EARLY BRANDS experience from international innovation consulting: A single innovation or technology impulse can cause many different innovation types. Thereby, it is essential to not merely think about new products or services but rather to broaden perspectives for innovation. In this way, companies can develop several fields of actions + different opportunities for successful future. Different opportunities are a key success factor today to identify, create and realize most attractive business opportunities.


Catch the Future …!