Transforming ideas into remarkable pet food innovation

Petfood Forum recently sat down with Tom Fishburne, consumer goods expert and founder of Marketoonist, to learn more about his 2021 Petfood Forum keynote presentation. Fishburne will speak on using innovation to be a pet food “David” within a Goliath on Thursday, September 23, at the 8:00-8:50 a.m. during the opening session.  Register here to learn from keynote Tom Fishburne, and 30+ other industry experts.

Fishburne will share tips for transforming ideas into new products and methods for building a culture that champions creativity, which is particularly important in the highly competitive pet food industry.

Petfood Forum: How can smaller pet food manufacturers stay competitive?

Tom: As an alum of the Method brand (an upstart household cleaning brand), I’m a big believer in the power of challenger brands to punch harder than their weight. Smaller pet food manufacturers can’t rely on the same scale, resources, and budgets as larger brands, so by necessity, they have to find ways to change the playing field. You can’t out-Purina Purina. You have to find a different reason for being. I think that starts with asking the following question — what makes your brand “meaningfully unique?” And from there, use the natural advantages of smaller organizations — speed, flexibility, ingenuity — to run circles around Goliath.

Petfood Forum: What is a culture of creativity?

Tom: The founder of Geek Squad once said, “Advertising is a tax you pay for unremarkable thinking.” This reflects the sea of sameness in many product categories — average products that rely on advertising alone to drive sales. I take this quote as inspiration to create as remarkable a brand experience as possible. That takes holistic support from the whole organization, far beyond the remit of the marketing department. In many organizations, the culture is centered on risk mitigation, where the path of least resistance is to make ideas safer, which can water down remarkable thinking. A culture of creativity is the opposite.

Petfood Forum: What is the #1 roadblock to innovation within companies?

Tom: Silo thinking. Innovation takes the whole organization, collectively improving innovation to make ideas stronger. Silo thinking can lead to a death of 1,000 cuts, which is the quickest route to unremarkable innovation.

Petfood Forum: What pets rule the Fishburne household?

Tom: Strudel definitely rules the roost at our house. He’s a rescue poodle mix we adopted 8 years ago. I asked for just one condition when we brought Strudel home — that he stay off the furniture. Judging by how quickly Strudel took over our couches and beds, I know exactly where we each fall in the family pecking order — and he’s the boss.

About Petfood Forum

The 2021 edition of Petfood Forum is scheduled for September 22-24 at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. Petfood Forum includes an agenda packed with opportunities to network and collaborate with industry professionals, learn the latest in pet food innovation and discover new tools for business success.