When it comes to new product innovation, incubators can teach legacy brands a thing or two about speed to market, according to Karlee Renkoski, associate editor at Baking & Snack, in her November trends report.

At start-ups, communication flows freely, and without a corporate umbrella, the sky is often the limit for what ideas they can test out. At bigger businesses, policies and procedures often slow down innovation.

“Legacy brands have done many things incredibly well and have immense innovation in house,” noted Natalie Shmulik, chief executive officer, The Hatchery Chicago, a nonprofit incubator that supports food and beverage entrepreneurs. “The challenge is letting these innovative ideas come to the surface and flourish. There are many restrictions within legacy brand structures, which make it difficult to create an environment where team members can comfortably test ideas.”

While quicker product innovation can get a legacy brand on the consumers’ radar, start-ups are garnering attention by showcasing their non-traditional products in new channels. Ms. Shmulik said these include fitness centers, c-stores, pop-up retailers, hardware stores and festivals.

Consumers’ purchasing habits have also shifted, and because they often shop these alternative channels, incubators’ disruptive products are noticed there. If there’s one thing start-up brands do well, Ms. Renkoski observed, it’s being consumer-centric.

“They get personal, which allows them to be remembered, receive detailed feedback and garner a greater awareness of where their category is headed,” she explained.

Learning from start-ups and communicating like them are valuable lessons that bigger businesses can use to reinvigorate their legacy brands and help reinvent the markets in which they serve.