Case study

Accelerating food and beverage product design

Creating the future of new product development with Almarai and developing 7 new food experiences in 7 months

Almarai is the world’s largest vertically integrated dairy company and the largest food production and distribution company in the Middle East. 


Accelerating and validating new product design

A leader in the food and beverage industry in the Middle East, Almarai sought to keep up with a changing market by speeding up product innovation and integrating a sustainable, replicable innovation framework into their existing processes.


Designing robust, replicable innovation accelerators

Board of Innovation ran a multi-phased, strategic innovation program, focused on customer-centricity, product validation and embedding a culture of continuous innovation within Almarai.


The first validated innovation methodology and three new food and beverage products

10x the speed of new product development, introduced sustainable innovation practices, and developed multiple consumer-tested products.


Accelerating and validating new product design

Being the market leader in food and beverages in the Middle East, and with a  broad portfolio of products, spanning dairy, juice, bakery, snacks, poultry, and infant nutrition, Almarai sought to accelerate its product design process to keep up with growing competition and changing customer demands.

Their goal was not just to accelerate innovation, but to infuse customer-centricity into their product development journey, and establish a common, replicable innovation framework and build internal capabilities to grow in-house expertise for future business challenges.


Designing robust, replicable innovation accelerators

With the two-fold challenge of accelerating innovation and product design, while establishing a replicable, sustainable innovation framework, we designed a multi-step innovation program, meticulously structured to integrate with Almarai’s existing stage-gate process and to invigorate their product development process with robust innovation practices.

Firstly, we developed two innovation accelerator programs, hinged on expediting their conventional product development process, while ensuring a seamless integration with their existing stage-gate approach.  Secondly, we focused on cultivating a robust innovation ecosystem within Almarai. This included building internal capabilities and crafting a common innovation framework to address future business complexities.

We rolled out the three-phased innovation program over seven months:

Innovation accelerator - Kickstart phase

Led by Board of Innovation experts, this initial phase was centered around dynamic business design sprints, focused on rapidly prototyping and consumer-testing new food and beverage products. As a result, we designed and tested four new products with consumers, two of which progressed further in the stage-gate process, and we selected four Almarai employees for future innovation coaching roles.

Empowering innovation coaches

Instead of traditional coaching, this phase was aimed at embedding a culture of innovation within Almarai. We facilitated this by introducing advanced innovation tools and methodologies, ensuring that these practices were ingrained within the Almarai teams. We coached selected employees to become innovation catalysts, capable of driving future product development initiatives.

Innovation accelerator - part two

This phase saw a collaborative effort between Board of Innovation and Almarai’s newly trained innovation coaches. Mirroring the first run’s structure, this phase yielded three consumer-tested products, with one advancing in the stage-gate process, and three more employees stepping up as future innovation coaches.


The first validated innovation methodology and three new food and beverage products

The collaboration not only bolstered Almarai’s position as a frontrunner in the food and beverages industry but also accelerated their product design process significantly, achieving a tenfold increase in efficiency.


New food and beverage solutions developed


Solutions progressed in the development process


Key product categories

The program’s multifaceted nature led to a range of impactful outcomes:

  • Establishment of Almarai’s first innovation methodology, fine-tuned and validated across the program’s span.
  • Introduction of an Innovation Playbook to guide future innovation scaling within Almarai.
  • Product Development: Seven customer-validated solutions emerged, with three advancing to the stage-gate process, spanning five key categories of Almarai’s portfolio, namly dairy, juice, food, bakery and infant nutrition
  • Consumer-centricity as focal point with consumers being the starting and ending points of the entire program, resulting in a stronger relationship between Almarai and its diversified target market
  • The initiative fostered a closer bond between Almarai and its diverse customer base, nurtured the first team of innovation coaches, ensured gender balance, and enhanced cross-functional collaboration.

The program 10xed the product design process, moving from one product in two years, to three products in seven months.

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