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Red Stripe's innovation team winning through teamwork

Published:Wednesday | January 14, 2015 | 9:12 AM

Innovation is often associated with technology as dozens of new gadgets seem to be launched every week.

When it comes to the beverage industry, however, innovation is just as important as it is to tech companies. In the past 12 months Red Stripe has produced a record nine innovations with the focus being on not only meeting consumer demands, but anticipating it.

“Consumers have very high expectations of consumer goods companies,” said Red Stripe’s innovation manager, Rory Burchenson. “They expect the goods and services to be first rate, to complement their sense of taste and style and essentially to be an extension of their personality. The innovation team at Red Stripe strives to exceed those expectations while delivering a product of the highest quality and standards.”

Burchenson leads a team of innovators pulled across different business units, marketing, sales, finance and supply. From concept to the end product on the shelf, a successful innovation depends heavily on the combined passion of each team member and their creative brilliance in their respective fields. The innovation process requires meticulous attention to detail and a free flowing line of communication between all parties as the process also includes a number of external players supporting the same outcome.


“Being passionate about what we do and working hard to bring ideas to life is the number one asset of a great innovator,” added Vayden Harvey, packaging production manager. Harvey explained that supply innovation is where ideas start to become tangible, where suppliers are identified, product analysis is done and production timelines are set to deliver the product.

“Locally, we manage liquid and pack development and approval, working with regulatory bodies, local and international brand and technical teams, legal teams, ingredient and material suppliers, design agencies, marketing agencies and shipping companies across the globe to deliver a final product in compliance with all the applicable standards,” he said. While it’s certainly a logistics exercise, fun is at the core of innovation and it unleashes a creative energy that permeates the entire team as everyone is focused on creating a product that will be enjoyed by thousands.


“The most exciting aspect of innovation is the process of creation. Seeing a concept come to life and launched is one of the most fulfilling feelings,” Burchenson said. “Even better when someone says they love this new flavour, or that new product.” The Red Stripe team has gained much satisfaction from its latest innovation, Red Stripe Sorrel. This product is a combination of beer, sorrel and ginger extracts infused with exotic spices to deliver an unforgettable taste experience. Burchenson said consumer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive as the novel concept of combining beer and sorrel hits the right note.

“I think what makes this unique is that it’s the world’s first naturally flavoured sorrel beer. It took us two years and around 15 different concepts to develop because the liquid was so complex to replicate. The pimento, ginger, sweetness and spicy notes had to be perfectly matched to homemade,” said Burchenson. By creating new products Red Stripe ensures its brands remain relevant and meets the desires of the ever selective consumer.

“Innovation will be one of the main pillars driving the future growth of this business,” said Red Stripe’s managing director Cedric Blair. “We will continue to track consumer habits and shopping trends to deliver new products that excite our consumers.”