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The Challenge

Drive transformative growth through innovative new offerings.

Impact

Two successful brand extensions that became the top product launches in their categories in 2018.

The Outcome

A focused commitment to consumer and design, resulting in a pipeline of game-changing product launches

Over more than a century of leadership in the food and beverage industry, The J.M Smucker Company has expanded its range of products to maintain its relevance and address market demand. Today, the company leads numerous categories, with beloved products like Jif, Milk-Bone, and Folgers, which are the top choices of millions of Americans. By growing and diversifying their brands over the decades, Smucker has successfully weathered major shifts in consumer habits and technology. Today, though, CPG companies are experiencing unprecedented disruption, and leaders at Smucker understand that the escalating pace of change will require more than just new products.

Geoff Tanner, Senior Vice President, Growth & Consumer Engagement at The J.M. Smucker Company recognized the need to identify new market opportunities and establish practices that put innovation and growth at the heart of their business. And he saw the potential to bring those goals to life through his relationship with IDEO.

Balancing innovation and efficiency through design has helped Geoff Tanner, Senior Vice President, Growth & Consumer Engagement at The J.M. Smucker Company, brave the unfamiliar, transform organizations, and ultimately bring game-changing ideas to market faster.

Geoff has stewarded a close partnership with IDEO for over a decade and throughout roles at numerous organizations. Together, Geoff and IDEO have worked on 25 projects, beginning while Geoff was VP of Marketing at Big Heart Pet Brands, and continuing on throughout his career at The J.M. Smucker Company. By working with IDEO to adopt a design thinking approach, Geoff has enabled collaboration across teams and empowered his organizations to find new ways of working that result in measurable business impact. For The J.M. Smucker Company, the partnership has brought creativity and human-centered design to the forefront of its operations, strengthening its ability to bring new products and brands to market and create a pipeline of growth.

Everyone talks about speed and agility, but the speed bumps that come along with that don't sit well with everyone.

Geoff Tanner, Senior Vice President, Growth & Consumer Engagement, The J.M. Smucker Company

The J.M. Smucker Company has shifted to embrace growth and innovation as a mindset throughout the organization to bring more consistency to the innovation process.

Looking to the past to creatively connect with the future

As an example of this, Geoff and The J.M. Smucker Company suggested to IDEO that they explore how Folgers, America’s leading at-home coffee brand, might resonate more deeply with a millennial audience. Design research revealed that the mindset of today’s millennial coffee drinkers aligned with Folgers entrepreneurial brand roots. The teams collaborated to create a new concept: a brand called 1850 and an end-to-end, go-to-market product experience, including packaging, retail, and merchandise. 1850 hit shelves in 2018 and has since been reported by IRI Advantage as the top launch in the Coffee Category for 2019.

Inspired by the heritage and history of Folgers, the 1850 brand launched as a comprehensive product experience that would resonate with a younger audience.

Frankly, I don’t think innovation gets any easier. You just get a little more comfortable with the discomfort, and that’s when the work starts to get consistently better.

Geoff Tanner, Senior Vice President, Growth & Consumer Engagement, The J.M. Smucker Company

Creating an innovation pipeline that’s inspired by consumers’ needs

With 1850 underway, Geoff and The J.M. Smucker Company continued to invest in human-centered design to drive new offerings. The next collaboration with IDEO explored how Jif, the iconic peanut butter brand, could extend beyond the jar and become more readily accessible and appealing to busy parents who want to feel confident about the snacks they give their kids.

The design team was moved by the challenges that parents face: They want the best for their kids, but struggle to choose between what’s wholesome and what’s convenient on a daily basis. The ideal foods are filling, nutritious, and energizing, but often take more time to prepare and aren’t backpack or carpool-friendly. On the other hand, more convenient options tend to be full of empty carbs. Based on this insight, IDEO and Jif decided to tackle the snack-time parenting struggle. The IDEO and Jif teams worked side-by-side to prototype multiple product ideas and formats and tested them with on-the-go families to ultimately create Power Ups.

Available at over 200 retailers worldwide and online at Amazon, Jif Power Ups make wholesome, delicious grab-and-go snacking possible for kids and parents alike, across products ranging from Soft Baked Bars to Creamy Clusters, which are filled with peanut butter and rolled in whole grain oats. All are made with peanuts as the first ingredient and contain no high fructose corn syrup. Since going to market in 2018, Jif Power Ups has been named the top innovation launch in the Snack Bars category by IRI Market Advantage.

Moved by the challenges that busy parents face, the teams created Jif Power Ups— wholesome and delicious grab-and-go snacks that are now available at over 200 retailers worldwide.

Design thinking underpins everything we do.

Geoff Tanner, Senior Vice President & Corporate Officer, Growth & Consumer Engagement, The J.M. Smucker Company

The J.M. Smucker Company is on a transformational journey, committed to three pillars of growth: Lead in the best categories, build brands consumers love, and be everywhere.

The J.M. Smucker Company has experienced accelerated growth and speed to market by testing bold new ideas and evolving the role of innovation at the company. Design thinking and consumer empathy have permeated the organization’s new product development process, making it easier to uncover sharp, human-centered insights that lead to thoughtful and uniquely differentiated brands in a competitive, ever-shifting, and overcrowded industry. The work has fueled Geoff’s vision to inspire a culture of innovation at the company so that it can move at the speed of consumers and remain a best-in-class family of brands for future generations.

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