Innovation key for US brands

20 October 2011

NEW YORK: Over three-quarters of US brand owners believe innovation will exert a profound influence on their efforts to drive future revenue growth, new figures show.

General Electric, the conglomerate, and the Economist Intelligence Unit, the research group, polled 360 senior executives representing firms in sectors including the technology, electronics, pharmaceutical and food and beverages industries.

Overall, 90% of companies agreed that innovation would play an essential role in contributing to their long term success, a status which 62% of the panel conferred to cutting costs.

Some 33% of organisations invested  "substantial time and money" in R&D and described it as "vital" to their prospects. A further 22% allocated "a lot" of resources to this activity and saw it as "important".

"Investment in technology and innovation will create jobs and drive output for the future," Mike Vander Wel, of Boeing, the aerospace group, said. "We are all operating under the same regulatory requirements, and the best way to meet those regulations is through quality and efficient design."

Elsewhere, however, 25% of corporations allotted "some time and money" to developing new goods and services, while 10% provided "little" support to the discipline, and 9% had a budget of zero.

Additionally, 90% of interviewees thought developing technologically-advanced solutions would be integral to their business and the US economy as a whole.

More specifically, 43% of the panel predicted green technology had the greatest growth potential in the next three years, hitting 42% for the energy and high-tech categories, and 37% for pharma and biotech.

When assessing the ways American enterprises can compete with low-cost rivals from emerging markets, especiallly China, 61% of participants stated product quality would be a key differentiator.

Another 39% mentioned innovative production processes, 37% looked to intellectual property protection and 35% suggested the ability to meet the needs of high-tech sectors was essential.

Meanwhile, 51% of contributors argued corporate tax cuts could boost innovation, and 38% wanted the government to invest greater amounts in R&D.

"Without government support, manufacturing jobs will go elsewhere," Jay Knoll, of Energy Conversion Devices, the solar power firm, said. "We need advantages to scaling production in our own country."

Data sourced from General Electric; additional content by Warc staff