Game Changers

Game Changer Profile

Andria Long, VP of Innovation, Johnsonville

Andria Long, VP of Innovation at Johnsonville Read insights

Andria Long – VP of Innovation at Johnsonville Sausage – believes that effective innovation is, most centrally, about delivering on the ideas which actually solve consumer needs in a differentiated way. When it comes to innovation, her first question is: “what differentiators are consumers actually willing to pay for?”

Long’s team continuously analyzes data to identify themes that point to key consumer opportunities, which is one of the reasons why Johnsonville is ranked the #1 sausage brand in America.  And while many companies remain hyper-focused on the ideation phase and protracted data analysis, the Johnsonville innovation process is a more rapid, consumer and customer-focused front-end model.

For Long, innovation is more than just an idea. Her team has turned their innovation philosophy into revenue-generating practices, as demonstrated with the establishment of the company’s Innovation Center in Chicago and the launch of successful new products, including the brand’s ‘Fully Cooked Breakfast Sausage’. 

Long notes that traditional innovation processes can be needlessly time-consuming. She has found that some stages can even be skipped to seize the competitive edge. Formerly VP of Innovation & Strategy at Sara Lee Corporation, the Florida native has extensive innovation expertise at top-tier CPG companies like Kimberly Clark and Kellogg. Her insights-based approach to innovation has delivered award-winning product launches, such as Cheez-It Cheddar Jack, Ball Park Burgers, and Johnsonville Fully Cooked Breakfast Sausage.

These consumer-facing innovation tactics have certainly paid off.  In 2015, Johnsonville was voted a top 20 medium-sized company to work for in the US, thanks in large part to a culture that balances its famed product values – quality and great taste – with the rapid up-take of new ideas. 

Long also authored the Journey to Innovation Excellence chapter published by McGraw-Hill in the Global Innovation Science Handbook. 

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