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Delivering Innovation Inspiration at the Simmons Leadership Conference



“To innovate successfully, an organization must have a culture where innovation is nurtured and thrives,” Campbell CEO Denise Morrison said as she served as a keynote speaker at the 35th Simmons Leadership Conference in Boston on April 23rd.

This year’s Simmons Leadership Conference took shape with the theme Jumping the Curve, which encouraged leaders to step away from the familiar and step up to the unknown in order to sustain success. Morrison’s keynote explored the state of the consumer and the need for companies to foster innovation in order to connect with consumers in an ever-changing and evolving world.

“Family composition in the 21st century is changing in profound ways, presenting new opportunities for businesses that recognize and respond to the changing demographics,” Morrison said as she explained how the American household has shifted dramatically. “We are witnessing the growth of single person and adult-only households, single-parent households, multigenerational households, multicultural and multi-racial households and households with same-sex couples.”

With this shift in the American household, paired with a seismic shift in e-commerce, digital technologies and social media, Morrison is embracing change. “In my view, the flood of digitized information and conversation is shaping innovation as never before.  It is giving companies like ours a virtual window into the behavior, beliefs, insights, preferences and lifestyles of consumers, as well as real-time platforms to engage them as part of the innovation process.”

Knowing the importance of innovation to keep up with the pace of the consumer, Morrison applied four basic principles at Campbell to further the company’s innovation efforts:

  1. A laser focus on consumers
  2. Leadership courage to enable cultural transformation
  3. Structuring teams and people to unshackle creativity and foster bold decision-making
  4. A sense of urgency

These principles paved the way for innovative products like Campbell’s Go soups, Campbell’s Dinner Sauces, Goldfish Puffs and V8 V-Fusion +Energy beverages. The shift in demand for fresh foods led to the acquisition of Bolthouse Farms, which enabled Campbell to expand into the $12 billion packaged fresh category and has given us a leading innovator in the packaged fresh space.

In order to continually fill the innovation funnel, Morrison has implemented an entirely new innovation process at Campbell North America. It’s breakthrough innovation teams are comprised of a marketer, a consumer-insights expert, a packaging engineer, a product development expert and a chef. These teams oversee new Campbell products from concept through launch and are crucial to delivering exciting retail products that capture the imagination of our consumers and deliver top-line growth.

Morrison closed her keynote by stating, “We believe that we’ve created the right framework for driving smart, meaningful, and successful innovation at Campbell.  We understand that our new approach to innovation will require both disruptive innovation to deliver new breakthrough products in new growth spaces, and sustaining innovation to strengthen our core business and maintain the position of our current product lines.  And we know that both types of innovation are crucial to our future growth.”

Today’s increasingly diverse, digitally connected consumers who are seeking new products with different taste profiles, price points and sizes, as well as a desire for more personalized food experiences will require relentless focus on innovation. Is Campbell up for the challenge? Morrison answered with a resounding yes: “For leading companies – and companies that aspire to reach the next level – the challenge is to adapt, evolve and innovate – in ways that respond effectively to new consumer demands and priorities while maintaining the profitability of a strong core business.”


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