innovation capability

"That's My Macro Goal: to Shift the Portfolio to Better Stuff"

The Resonance Test 23: Erica Eden

April 25, 2018
by Eric BognerKen Gordon
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Snacks are serious business, as Erica Eden, PepsiCo’s Director of Global Design Innovation, will tell you. She’s done an enormous amount of work to bring the front-end-of-innovation process into the kingdom of PepsiCo’s snack empire. Last spring, right before speaking at the Front End of Innovation conference, she sat down with Continuum Principal Eric Bogner—who used to sit near Eden when he worked at PepsiCo—to talk about innovation in a humongous organization, designing for women, and empathizing with the aesthetic of people who are very different from you. And now, a few of Eden’s most snackable quotes to get you excited for the main meal of this Resonance Test dialogue…

• “That’s my macro goal: to shift the portfolio to better stuff.”

• “The front-end-of-innovation process” is “changing a lot internally at Pepsico. The teams, particularly marketing teams, insights, R&D, and just overall business leaders are really adopting the new way of thinking.”

• “That’s been my challenge: to make design thinking fun.”

• “These big companies, PepsiCo and others, they’re not necessarily motivated to use their intuition.”

• “It’s hard to stand up in front of the CEO and say: ‘I think this is an opportunity.’ But I think designers do a wonderful job doing that. They build the case behind years of experience—which feels like a hunch, but it really is your years of experience.”

• “When you look at innovation briefs, you see consistently these happy women, eating salads. These false versions of women. They don’t exist. They’re always smiling, they’re always 30. They’re always moderately attractive.”

• “The industry is shy about having these strong opinions about women’s brands.”

• “There’s a disconnect there, between who’s doing all the making and who’s doing all the buying. Right? Men and women. Once you actually break down the numbers, it becomes pretty obvious that there’s a disconnect.”

• “I try not to think about demographic because I don’t think it matters as much as mindset.”

Host: Pete Chapin
Editor: Kyp Pilalas
Producer: Ken Gordon

The Resonance Test 23: Erica Eden</

filed in: innovation capability

About the Author

  • Bogner Eric
    Eric Bogner
    Managing Principal, Product Design

    Eric is an accomplished designer with an instinct for developing iconic, industry-leading product solutions in diverse markets and across multiple media. His corporate and consulting experience has provided the skills to navigate corporations and manufacturers to deliver disruptive yet commercially viable solutions. Eric enjoys expanding what people think is possible, connecting ideas and leading multidisciplinary teams on complex projects.

    Eric’s work spans a diverse range of industries including technology, consumer products, food & beverage, furniture, and housewares, via partnerships with companies like Target, Wyndham, Kensington and Nike.
    He has won extensive recognition for his work over the years, including iF, RedDot, and Chicago Athenaeum GOOD DESIGN awards. Eric received a masters in three-dimensional design from Cranbrook Academy of Art. He holds over 20 patents.

  • Gordon Ken
    Ken Gordon
    Content, Conversation, and Community Strategist

    Ken makes Continuum’s work visible to the necessary people. He creates superlative content, works with colleagues to do the same, and employs social networks to share it widely.

    A card-carrying humanist, Ken co-founded QuickMuse, the improvisational writing website, and JEDLAB, the Jewish education community. He has written for TheAtlantic.com, the New York Times, and many other pubs.

    Ken has an English degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and an MA in English from the State University of New York at Albany. He framed both diplomas long ago, but can’t seem to find them now—a fact he considers all-too-human.