The LSA-Henkel study on innovation in the eyes of mass distribution is un-disputable. Distributors are approving innovations that make sense! Not less than 53% of professionals interviewed believe that innovation increased in 2017 and for 75% of respondents, manufacturers are recognized for their ability to innovate. Sustainable development and services: This is the winning duo of innovation.

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According to the LSA-Henkel study, professionals in mass distribution believe that innovation increased by 53% during the year 2017.© Fotolia #117538954 | Author: fotomek

On 25th October 2017, during Henkel France’s 50th anniversary, LSA and Henkel revealed the results of an unpublished study on innovation from the perspective of mass distribution. Conducted from 4th – 29th September with 204 decision-makers in mass distribution, the study helps to better understand the way in which innovation is perceived by retail professionals. “Facing consumers in search of meaning and digital opportunities, it is vital for us to fully understand the issues facing distributors today,” explains Amélie Vidal-Simi, president of Henkel France. “This innovation study clearly highlights the role of sustainable development and services, thereby confirming our commitment to these areas at the heart of Henkel’s 2020 + strategy.”

Mass distribution’s dynamism and recognized capacity of manufacturers

According to the LSA-Henkel study, professionals of the retail industry consider the innovation increased by 53% in 2017.  For 27% of respondents, the most memorable innovations of 2017 in the retail sector first affected the distribution modes (multichannel, digital opportunities), followed by innovations in services (14%) and those related to sustainable development (14%) and health (11%).

The study also highlights the recognition of the strong innovation capacity of manufacturers according to 75% of the decision-makers interviewed.

Study results

Sustainable development: a challenge and a lever for innovation in distribution

In this dynamic context, the LSA-Henkel study clearly established the key role played today by innovations in the field of sustainable development. To the question “How have the major trends in innovation evolved over the course of this year”, this area is first mentioned (54% consider this trend of innovation was rising in 2017). This is particularly the case in food distribution (62%), where this trend was significantly anticipated by those related to distribution modes (50%) and services (39%).

How did the major trends in innovation evolve during this year compared to 2016?

Evolved innovations 2017

And in the future, as for 88% of distributors interviewed consider that breakthrough innovation is always possible, it will primarily concern sustainable development. For 28% of respondents, it will indeed be on this dimension that innovations will intervene, in front of services (18%) and technology (16%).

Innovation that makes sense

Distributors also agree that innovation must first and foremost meet a real need (61%). Then there are other elements that play a key role, such as the concept, the quality of the product or the communication. The price was identified as a success factor for only 19% of respondents.

Success Factors Innovation

Coherently, policymakers report that the first obstacle to innovation is the multiplication of false innovations (28%).

How to innovate and with whom?

A quarter of respondents stressed the importance of the choice of distribution channels in the launch of an innovation.  According to distributors, if the leading trifecta is clearly detached (specialized point of sale / e-commerce / hyper), the order will vary depending on the sector. Thus, hypermarkets comes to the top in food (31%), while the specialized point of sale wins in the DIY/decoration sector (45%). Drive-Throughs, however, are seen as a place to promote innovation by only 27% of the decision-makers in mass-distribution.

As to what actors to rely on to innovate, listening to the client/ consumer is always seen as a prerequisite for 34% of the respondents, without forgetting technological (28%)  or digital (20%) start-ups.


The survey was conducted by the LSA Institute of Studies, on the Internet from 4th to 29th September 2017 with 204 decision-makers in mass-distribution from corporate offices (43%), points of sale (32%), central purchasing (21%) and e-commerce (2%). General, marketing, commercial or digital management, these decision-makers work in various sectors of activity such as food, beauty or multimedia. 59% of participants were between 40 and 55 years of age.


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