Brands are investing in innovation by incubating innovating ideas from others. PepsiCo is boosting tech start-ups, while Kimberly-Clark is focusing on the fastest-growing sector of entrepreneurs: women, or in their case, mompreneurs.
So move over, baby Einstein; Huggies is helping mama Einsteins by financing a dozen ventures with grants aimed at the brand's core constituency, and perhaps more importantly, rewarding them for participating.
Twelve entrepreneurs now make up the first class of Huggies MomInspired grant recipients, receiving $15,000 each to fund their "unique baby or childcare product ideas that address unmet parenting needs and make life easier for moms and dads."
The winning ideas, chosen from 400 submissions include a spill-proof training cup, a device that relieves the stress and pain of child vaccinations, an online tool that helps moms balance their busy lives, and an organized system for on-the-go parents with children on oxygen.
"We're thrilled to have received so many inspired ideas in just the first round of the program," comments Steve Paljieg, Senior Director, Corporate Innovation for Kimberly-Clark. "Our most important consumer is mom, and we felt the launch of Huggies MomInspired delivered on the brand's mission of providing simple solutions to help parents enjoy each and every day, but also further encouraged the business success of moms by giving them access to educational and financial resources."
The initiative has proven successful enough to launch a second round in the new year. Anyone can sign up online, with the caveat that applicants must be women (not necessarily moms) over 21, living in the U.S., with "an original, innovative and viable business and product idea for pre-natal care up to 6 years of age which are designed to help make life easier for parents so they can better enjoy everyday moments with their little ones. Ideas do not have to be diaper- or hygiene-related."
Huggies is part of Kimberly-Clark’s brand portfolio of products - available in 150 countries and purchased by 1.3 billion people. By fostering innovation in the brand's users, it's helping their customers' dreams and aspirations, creating a brand halo by tacitly acknowledging that parents are more than diaper-changing machines, with hopes and dreams not only for their kids but to help others, too.
Surely there are dozens more great ideas out there, being alchemized now in kitchens, cars and playgrounds across America, just waiting to percolate up and out. We can't wait to see what the next bumper crop brings, and how this first crop does.