Innovation and Heinz Ketchup

I personally love when shortly after a topic is discussed in class, real life situations that pertain to the details of the lecture occur. Maybe it doesn’t happen with Statistics or Accounting, but with Operations Management, it seems to happen with almost certainty. You see, the lecture was on innovation, more specifically, exactly what defines innovation and the different types of innovation (incremental versus radical). We also learned about strategies for new product development. We discussed how 3M had to create a market for Post-it® notes, because no one at the time cared to have a piece of paper that you could pull off a stack and stick to something, remove it, and stick it somewhere else.

Back to the incremental versus radical discussion. The difference is that with incremental, there is already something in place, you are just making small adjustments to it (think iPhone and iPhone 3g and 3gS). Then there is radical- you are completely redesigning what you have currently. This is where it gets saucy. You know you do it, every time you use something, you think- how can this be improved? Okay, so maybe you don’t do it every time, but there are just certain things that make you wonder why someone has yet to come up with a better way of doing it. For me, ketchup packets are on the top of that list.

I should start by saying that I love ketchup. You know the saying “Would you like some fries with your ketchup?”, well, that is me. So, it’s no wonder that in all of my years of fast food eating and attempting to use ketchup packets in the car, I really love what they are doing at Heinz. Heinz has even created a facebook page! Take a look:

Heinz North AmericaHeinz KetchupHeinz Ketchup
Heinz North America

I am very excited for this ketchup packet innovation and I would even pay for it. I would say an additional 5-10 cents per packet after the first would be okay with me. (Did you know that some McDonald’s stores will charge you 10 cents for each additional BBQ sauce containers?)

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Anyway, the moral of the story is there is always room for innovation. You think something is as good as it can get, and then it improves. After years of frustration with packets of ketchup, I’m glad Heinz finally realized it.