Cultural innovation: Triumph of a better ideology

Douglas Holt and Douglas Cameron

Market innovation has long been dominated by the world view of engineers and economists - build a better mousetrap and the world will take notice. But Douglas Holt and Douglas Cameron argue the merits of cultural innovation instead.

This functional point of view certainly has merit. But, because it is the only way that we approach innovation, the 'better mousetraps' approach has had the effect of eclipsing a very different innovation world view - champion a better ideology and the world will take notice as well.

This phenomenon is found everywhere in consumer markets. For example, farmer-cookbook-author-television host Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, author Michael Pollan, the international Slow-Food movement, and the American grocery retailer Whole Foods Market, among others, have transformed food consumption for the middle and upper-middle class. These cultural innovators have championed an alternative approach to agriculture and food as an ideological challenge to the dominant scientific-industrial food ideology.