Innovation at the intersection: How aha moments are born

Helen Donald

There are many ways to get innovation wrong, but in our latest blog, Helen Donald, Partner in the STRAT7 Advisory team, takes a deep dive into how to get it right.

For us, success in innovation boils down to the inception of the idea – the aha moment – that comes when everything falls into place and the path forward becomes clear.  And for this to happen, you have to have the right conditions in place.

We believe that great innovation is all about recognising opportunities at the intersection of Consumer Needs, Science & Technology, and Category Context in a way that delivers value to consumer and business by addressing core consumer and business needs.

Take a look at the diagram below. These 3 elements are akin to tectonic plates – shifting and developing constantly – so new intersections can happen at any time.

It’s a lot to consider! And this is why the kind of simple ideas that end up subverting the status quo and stimulating real category disruption can feel so difficult to spot and cultivate. But if you get it right, it can set you up for success across the rest of the innovation value chain.


So how do you create the right conditions to satisfy all of the above? How can you identify when something has shifted to change the landscape and create new opportunities for value creation? And how do you do it in a way that reflects the agility and pace of change in today’s world?

Always start with the consumer

For us, the start point is always the consumer. A new product or service that doesn’t create value for your existing or potential customer is an invention, not true innovation.  

It is critical therefore to be able to identify the deep-set unmet consumer needs that are crying out for resolution. Equally critical is being clear on how resolving them will benefit your business. 

We call the meeting of consumer and business need an unlocking insight – a consumer tension that if met will unlock opportunity for your business. The cornerstone to any strong innovation idea  

Done well, this can be made to look easy but the skill it takes to get there should not be underestimated.  Thankfully this expertise resides in spades across the STRAT7 group.  

Connect the dots to create new value

The next step is to pinpoint how to solve this consumer tension to create value in new and potentially ground-breaking ways. 

Both technology and science, and category and market dynamics play a critical ‘make or break’ role here. 

– The right science and technology can act as an amplifier to grow the potential impact of a solution. However, if this doesn’t exist or isn’t accessible enough, it can be a barrier. The tech needs to not only be possible but also established enough to be delivered affordably at scale. 

– Category and market context can hugely impact the viability of an opportunity. Changing economic conditions, new entrants to the category or new regulations can present both curve balls and opportunities. If the market conditions aren’t favourable or your industry isn’t ready, due to supply chain or regulatory challenges, for example, there may be significant hurdles standing in your way.  

By democratising data and uncovering insights across consumer, technology and category context, you will be in a much stronger position to identify relevant, viable and feasible innovations that lie at the intersection of all three. 

Get the mindset right

So, you have identified the tension, and a platform to unlock it – it’s all plain sailing from here, right? Sadly not! For a light bulb to work, you need the switch to be turned on. For an idea to be accepted and acted on, the business needs to be open to accepting the possibilities it offers.  My colleague Kate Jones wrote about this in our last Advisory blog, but it is worth re-stating how critical it is for all stakeholders to be open and willing to see the potential that a great innovation can have. 

Keeping pace with change

That then is our recipe for success in generating the aha moments that can set the course of successful innovations. The real challenge is being able to spot and anticipate ways to better solve consumer tensions before anyone else.

To hear more about our approach to innovation please check out our webinar or reach out to our advisory team here.


Joe Lockey

Senior Analyst

Joe joined us after completing rotations across our consumer, services and health sectors, whilst gaining exposure to both qualitative and quantitative research techniques.


Alice Hedlund


Alice has experience in customer-centric growth, brand strategy and innovation at global scale. She specialises in brand transformation journeys, bridging the gap between business and brand strategy to create holistic and actionable plans for impactful growth.

Helen Donald


Job Title

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Tom Carvell


Tom has a science background with a PhD in Materials Chemistry. He has spent most of his career working on in-house front-end innovation where he delivered mid/long term strategic projects for brands such as Durex, Scholl, Veet and KY. He is focussed on delivering pragmatic but provocative innovation strategy for CPG categories.

Manick Pratheeban

Senior Principal

Manick is a brand strategy and consumer insight specialist with 15+ years’ experience helping to grow some of the world’s biggest brands. He has a proven track record of translating trends, consumer, and market data into actionable insights to formulate growth strategies.

Kate Jones

Senior Principal

Kate has over a decade of experience in creating transformative strategies for customer-focused businesses. With a background in consumer insight and behaviour change across consumer health, packaged goods, leisure, banking and other sectors she focuses on elevating the customer experience to create human-centric innovations and foster impactful growth.

Jacob Gascoine-Becker


Jacob specialises in leveraging consumer research to inform investment strategy and business case development. A management consultant since 2014, he previously spent eight years working in ecommerce and digital marketing.

Ines Achabal

Senior Analyst

Ines is inately curious and creative. She is known for her expansive thinking when exploring client challenges and elevating the visual quality of outputs to maximise their impact.

Helene Mills


Helene has 20+ years’ experience advising business leaders and investors on growth strategy based upon consumer and market intelligence. Her particular specialism lies in leisure, retail, food and beverage sectors.

Helen Donald

Helen Donald


Helen has consulted businesses at different stages of growth across a variety of sectors, specialising in consumer packaged goods and consumer healthcare. She is an adept strategist, bringing clarity to the most complex of situations and connecting dots to create rich, future-proofed platforms for innovation, brand positioning and growth.

Allan Chen STRAT7 Advisory

Allan Chen

Senior Principal

Allan’s core skillset provides an analytical and commercial lens to address client challenges. He started his career as an actuary, and since then has held a broad range of strategic roles, improving performance across the private and public sector.


Björn Dufwenberg

Managing Director​

Björn has 15+ years’ experience in insight-driven transformation, across management consulting, as well as brand and innovation agency roles. Most recently he headed up the Customer-Led Transformation practice at PwC Sweden, until joining STRAT7 in 2021. He’s worked on global projects covering consumer goods, durables, spirits and beverages, retail, banking, and private equity.

Kamilla Dala

Senior Principal

Kamilla has 10+ years’ experience leading and implementing insight-driven transformation within global matrix organisations in durable and consumable goods. Areas of expertise cover segmentation, uncovering and translating actionable consumer insights within innovation, product development, brand positioning, strategy and marketing.