Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 1-1-2015


Worldwide Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Communication and Rhetorical Studies


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Calvin Troup

Committee Member

Janie Harden Fritz

Committee Member

Ronald Arnett


Marketing, Innovation, Consumer Packaged Goods, Product Management


This project investigates the relationship between rhetorical theory and marketing innovation as practiced in the consumer packaged goods industry. Marketing innovation, or the development of new products, product features (including packaging and messaging), and services, is a process-heavy practice often resulting in incremental or novelty innovations that do not drive long-term marketplace success for consumer packaged goods companies.

The history of innovation in consumer packaged goods companies is generally rooted in new-to-world innovations that meet a defined consumer audience's need or fill a gap in the marketplace. Over the past seven decades, this included developing packaged products that helped people live their everyday lives a bit more easily, like packaged food products. From post-World War II through the late 1980's, consumer packaged goods companies, through their marketing innovation efforts, launched thousands of innovations, flooding the marketplace with new products, both new-to-world products and incremental innovations. Beginning in the mid 2000's, the consumer packaged goods industry began to experience significant sales declines that continue today, forcing industry consolidation and a renewed charge for true innovation in the industry. The primary question driving this project is, "can rhetorical theory provide ground for an alternative approach to marketing innovation, favoring true innovation over novelty?" In investigating the consumer packaged goods innovation process, it was discovered that the practice of marketing innovation often emphasizes process over content. Working with the concepts of rhetorical invention as designed by Cicero and Aristotle, it is proposed that key principles within invention may offer a starting point for refocusing the innovation process toward content and away from process.

This study will explore the background of the consumer packaged goods industry and its roots in the American economy and within the communities in which its companies operate. It will review the standard consumer packaged goods innovation process, followed by an exploration of Cicero and Aristotle's concepts of rhetorical invention. It will then offer support via prominent marketplace literature and real world case studies that demonstrate the potential for invention as a grounding principle for the innovation process.