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Innovation Manager vs. Product Manager: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

In the business world, there are many different types of managers with various responsibilities. Two such positions are that of an innovation manager and a product manager. Both of these roles are important in the development and success of a company, but they have different focuses. In this article, we compare and contrast these two management positions, and we provide tips on how to decide which one is right for you.

What is an Innovation Manager?

Innovation Managers are responsible for developing and implementing strategies to stimulate growth and development within their company. They work with other managers and executives to identify areas where the company could improve and develop new products or services. They also conduct market research to determine what new products or services would be most beneficial for the company. Innovation Managers develop prototypes and test new products or services to ensure they are viable. They also create marketing plans to promote the new products or services.

What is a Product Manager?

Product Managers are responsible for the planning, development and execution of a company’s products and services. They work with cross-functional teams to ensure that products are designed, built and delivered to market in a timely and efficient manner. Product Managers are also responsible for creating and maintaining product roadmaps, defining product requirements and ensuring that products meet customer needs. In addition, Product Managers conduct market research, track industry trends and competitor activity, and analyze data to inform product decisions.

Innovation Manager vs. Product Manager

Here are the main differences between an innovation manager and a product manager.

Job Duties

Product managers and innovation managers share some of their job duties. These shared duties include researching customer needs, conducting market research and creating product requirements based on the company’s business goals.

Innovation managers often focus more on identifying new opportunities for the company to pursue. They do this by evaluating existing products and markets and suggesting ways the company can improve its offerings to better meet customers’ needs. In contrast, product managers typically oversee the entire life cycle of a product, providing input throughout each stage. This includes working with other members of the team, such as engineers and designers, to ensure that the final product meets customers’ expectations.

Job Requirements

Innovation managers typically need a bachelor’s degree in business administration, engineering or another relevant field. They also need experience leading and managing teams of employees. Some innovation managers pursue a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) to gain additional skills in business management and leadership.

Product managers also usually need a bachelor’s degree, but their educational background might be in a different field than innovation managers. For example, product managers might have degrees in computer science, marketing or engineering. Like innovation managers, product managers also often have experience leading and managing teams. An MBA can also help product managers learn more about business strategy and marketing, which can be helpful in their role.

Work Environment

Product managers typically work in an office setting, but they may also travel to meet with clients or attend trade shows. They spend most of their time working on projects and collaborating with teams to develop products that meet the needs of consumers.

Innovation managers often work in a professional environment, such as a corporate office. They may also travel for business purposes, attending conferences or visiting factories to observe production processes. Innovation managers usually work long hours, especially when launching new products.


Both innovation managers and product managers need to have excellent problem-solving skills. This is because they are often tasked with finding new ways to improve existing products or developing entirely new products that address a specific need. They also both need to be able to think creatively to come up with new ideas and solutions.

Innovation managers may benefit from having more research-oriented skills, as their job may involve conducting market analysis to identify gaps in the market that their company’s products could fill. They also need to be able to effectively communicate their findings to other members of their team so that they can develop a plan to address the identified need. Product managers, on the other hand, need to have strong project management skills to oversee the development and launch of new products. They also need to be able to work well with others, as they will likely be coordinating with multiple teams throughout the product development process.


Innovation managers earn an average salary of $103,497 per year, while product managers earn an average salary of $98,439 per year. Both of these salaries may vary depending on the size of the company, the location of the job and the level of experience the employee has prior to taking the job.


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