‘Sparking’ Successful Innovation

Disruptive has been a necessary adjunct to innovation. Brands commonly leverage consumer-centric insights to inform positioning and communication, but somehow innovation seems to bypass this and is more often than not judged on edginess and excitement! It is surprising then, that we have the statistics that 85% of FMCG innovations fail in the marketplace (not counting the numerous others that don’t see the light of the day having failed innovation testing within client organisations).

Sure, there is the technology sector with the likes of Apple that defy category norms and base their success on deliberate disruption. But disruption, when translated for FMCGs is still risky and unpredictable. So, how do we crack successful innovation for FMCGs?

There is a need for innovation to revisit the basics!

Why is Butterfly Helix process different to other methodologies?

Helix translates foundational human truths and consumer stories into category-specific Jobs To Be Done thus linking innovation to innate human drivers and ensuring relevance and longevity of the ideas. And breakthrough innovations are those that add incremental growth by attracting new buyers or address new occasions rather than just attracting short-term gains due to novelty and newness.

Helix translates broader opportunity spaces into specific, bite-size Jobs to be Done (JTBDs) which can act as focused start-points of innovations. More specifically, JTBDs are either resolutions of a consumer struggle / tension or helping them to actively fulfil an aspiration. These are functional, social or emotional nudges that make consumers take an action or initiate a routine so the brand can find a place in their lives. We call these Innovation Sparks inspired by Dante’s iconic ‘a mighty flame followeth a tiny spark’.

These Sparks can originate from various consumer start-points as shown below via some examples:

Within the category, compensating for sub-optimal performance

  • Are consumers employing a compensating routine to overcome dissatisfaction with products/brands (e.g. sugar in soft drinks, breakfast cereals)
  • Are consumers not using the product in occasions where they should be using these (e.g. green tea in tea times)
  • Are consumers flitting across brands looking for unfulfilled functional benefits (e.g. a chemical free hair-dye)

Within the category aspiring for better

  • Where consumer focus is shifting from product use to product experience

Beyond the category, compensating for non-performance

  • Undesirable product trade-offs where the consumer is choosing a sub-optimal option

Beyond the category, aspiring for better results

  • Combining different categories for optimal results (overdosing detergent and using fabric whitener)


Butterfly Sparks can be ideated in dynamic, shorter sessions as well as traditional workshops. We have used them across categories ranging from shower gel to deodorants to toothpaste to snacking to soft drinks with encouraging results.


Vatsala Rathorne, Associate Director