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Speed Up Product Innovation: 6 Strategies for Success

Find out what ice cream brand Enlightened, Metallica, and Salesforce have in common.

Just how much impact can a new ice cream bar have? Ice cream brand Enlightened recently worked with rock band Metallica to speed up product innovation and create an ice cream bar that is fighting hunger. Plus, Enlightened’s innovation efforts brought in Salesforce partners, making it a model for AppExchange product success.

In 2024, product innovation is a necessity. Brands want to maintain relevance, meet customer needs, and gain and retain customers. How can you ensure your next product launch promotes growth and creates new revenue potential? It ultimately comes down to intentional planning, informed development, and a commitment to keeping company values and customers at the heart of every decision.

 Cross the data strategy divide

Successful product innovation starts with making the journey out of data chaos and into data harmony.

Start with values

Giving back is a top Enlightened company value and a huge part of their product innovation process. Last year, they released an ice cream called Bake the World a Better Place to help support the nonprofit Diversify Dietetics. In fact, they donated 100% of the flavor’s profits to help increase racial and ethnic diversity in the field of nutrition.

This year, after connecting with Metallica during the production of a Salesforce+ original series called The Shift, Enlightened teamed up with Metallica’s philanthropic non-profit organization, All Within My Hands Foundation (AWMH). Together, they created the world’s first-ever guitar-shaped ice cream bar. And they used Salesforce technology and AppExchange partners to help give back.

A box of Vanilla Dark Chocolate Enlightened ice cream with the Metallica Foundation logo.

Enlightened’s rich, dark chocolate and creamy vanilla ice cream bar, in collaboration with AWMH, gives back to the community. A portion of each purchase helps fund food banks in the fight against hunger.

“In working with Metallica and the AWMH Foundation, we were able to create something that not only brings joy to taste buds, but also helps to make a positive impact on the lives of individuals facing food insecurity, a mission we have supported through our company history,” says Michael Shoretz, CEO and founder of Enlightened.

The company’s COO, Jen Haberman, explains how Salesforce and partner technology helped increase AppExchange product success and played a big role in the ice cream bar’s development.

“[It’s] a powerful example of how Salesforce technology and AppExchange partner apps can support and drive operational and customer success, from launch to deployment,” Haberman says.

Cultivate a culture of innovation

Truly innovative brands invest in creating a culture that celebrates creativity, growth, and diversity. Without the space to ideate and think outside the box, it’s easy to stay stuck in the same mode of production. Sure, sometimes you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but even the same wheel can benefit from strategic enhancements. 

Innovation is a key element of Enlightened’s company culture and identity. Whether they are improving existing products or listening to consumers’ wants and unmet desires, innovation is core to their mission.

Part of nurturing that culture of innovation involves ensuring that every team has the technology and tools they need to run their aspect of the business efficiently and effectively. “Whenever we launch a new product, we have someone on our team that owns the whole innovation process. And that process funnels through Milestones PM+, which is the project management tool or app that we use with Salesforce through the AppExchange,” Haberman says.

An Enlightened employee gives a presentation holding the product in a meeting room.

Make market research a priority

Every successful product launch has things in common. Often, an understanding of what the consumer landscape will be like and an investment in market research to optimize an offering.

“We always look to our consumer, or oftentimes a brand-new consumer, to understand what innovation is most exciting to today’s shopper,” Haberman says. To aggregate those data points, she adds, her team focuses “intensely on social listening and panel data.”

Concentrate on social listening, conduct surveys, analyze product performance, or weigh current trends. Whatever your process, by understanding customer needs, you can create a product that can fulfill those needs.

Create and execute with the customer in mind

But it isn’t enough to simply conduct and collect market research. It’s imperative to apply the market research to create a project plan and process that will ensure a great experience for your team and consumers.

Haberman points to a thorough process, with benchmarks that must be achieved before moving ahead to begin research and development. The team’s innovation process is built around a desire to guarantee the best product for their consumers. If that means they have to change something along the way, or even delay a product launch to create a better consumer experience, their decisions are always made with the customer in mind.

“We would rather wait and ensure the product we are putting out into the world is the best it can possibly be,” Haberman says.

Elevate the customer experience

Discover retail apps that can help you provide greater service and customer personalization for every product launch.

Determine metrics and analyze performance

Analyzing metrics isn’t just a short-term solution to figure out a product’s performance. It’s also an incredible way to inform future product launches. Once an innovation hits the market, Enlightened is diligent about measuring performance. They look at true sales demand and how it stacks up against forecasts.

In this process, partner app Accounting Seed allows the team to process finances — and all the data that comes with it. “Once we’ve sold the product,” Haberman says, “we can see how it’s performing, and how much we’ve sold — understanding the sales and the performance.” 
Data then gets funneled seamlessly into Tableau, enabling every data point to be used for greater efficiency and further innovation.

Evaluate impact and embrace iteration

Whether it’s Bake the World a Better Place or the guitar-shaped ice cream bar, Enlightened evaluates their new products after they’ve been in the market for three to six months. Of most importance to them is how consumers are reacting to the new product.

“We look closely at consumer feedback, to determine if there are any iterations we should make to even further improve the product, market fit, and our proposition,” Haberman says. “It’s almost a guarantee that we’ll tweak something – or many things – within that first year, to better appeal to consumers’ true needs.”

As Enlightened looks to the future, the team also has an eye on the ways tech might continue to transform their business and inform decisions.

“Understanding how AI will apply to our businesses is important,” Haberman says. “Our hope is to leverage AI so that our team doesn’t have to spend time doing that and can spend time continuing to drive innovation for our products, customer experience and business.”

For Enlightened, the formula for fast product innovation starts with values and ends with embracing iteration. Their latest guitar-shaped ice cream treat supports community initiatives with Metallica’s stamp of approval. That’s something we can all sing the praises of.

Now, who wants ice cream?

Lauren Gaskill's headshot.
Lauren Gaskill

Lauren Gaskill oversees the customer story strategy for Partner Marketing, working with the corporate team to help customers discover how partners can help them succeed. She is a conference speaker, published author, and podcaster. Gaskill has worked in content marketing and strategy since 2013. In addition to marketing, she is passionate about hiking, cooking, and writing.

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