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Yes, small companies can innovate like big brands. Here's how

Consumer preferences are rapidly changing, which means smaller brands that can capitalize on their ability to innovate quickly are better able to capture the natural products market.

Take it from Liz Myslik, chief marketing officer at natural brand co-packer Fresca Foods: Small, entrepreneurial companies are more poised than ever to take over the natural products channel. And even without the financial resources that Big Food has, there are three proven practices that will keep your brand at the forefront of consumer-driven innovation. 

1. Be 'incredibly close' to your consumer.

What exact role does your product play in your target consumer's life? As you grow and evolve, it's crucial to never lose sight of the unique problem that your product solves. This is all part of a method used often in the tech industry called "design thinking," wherein you start with the consumer in mind and design for the contexts in which they might use a given product.

2. Think with the end in mind.

You should have at least a three-year game plan in mind for your product. "Anytime you're creating something new, think about ultimately what that will look like three years from now," Myslik advises, "so that you're answering the questions and planning and preparing for what's ahead, not just at launch." This includes aspects like its desired price point, which affects everything from the ingredients you choose to the material of your product's packaging.

3. Innovation is a business process that should never stop.

Take advantage of the fact that you are able to tweak your products and take chances without risking millions of dollars and in a relatively short amount of time. "There's so much stress that comes with launching something new, but if you think about that as the version 1.0 of your product, and that in fact it will continue to grow and evolve, just like a small child or a growing plant, then it takes some of the pressure and the stress off," Myslik says. 

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