Consistent innovation success possible

10 September 2014

LONDON: Around three quarters of all new product launches fail within a year but a new study claims marketers can turn those into successes by changing their approach to innovation.

The Nielsen Breakthrough Innovation Report – based on an analysis of 12,000 FMCG product launches across western Europe since 2011 – revealed that two thirds of new products did not shift even 10,000 units, while three in four failed to retain a retailer listing beyond their first year.

The research business said, however, that it was possible for marketers to "predictably and consistently overturn historical high failure rates to achieve 85% success" by building a passionate culture around innovation.

"Innovation success is never just a remarkable coincidence," said Johan Sjöstrand, managing director of Nielsen's innovation practice in Europe. "It's about deliberate attempts to disrupt all aspects of the innovation process and challenge everyday norms, such as consumer attitudes, long-standing beliefs, launch mechanics, organisational behaviour and disciplines."

The study identified four principles common to every breakthrough innovation success. These started with making the right choice of innovation to pursue by walking in the shoes of the consumer to uncover key demand-driven insights.

After that it is necessary to have the right organisational framework and processes in place to shape the chosen innovation into a market-ready offer that has relevance, differentiation and superiority.

The activation strategy must then include creative marketing that is original and which tells the story of the innovation. Finally, the organisation has to be together behind the project, from top to bottom.

"The absence of any one of these four components – no matter how good the other three – severely limits the possibility of breakthrough success," Sjöstrand stated.

From the 12,000 launches analysed, Nielsen was able to announce just seven Breakthrough Innovation Winners which had met its criteria for this title.


Foster's Gold, Magnum Infinity, Milka Choco Supreme, Mullerlight Greek-style Yogurt, Lucozade Energy Pink Lemonade, Oral-B Pro-Expert All-Around Protection and Sodebo Salade et Compagnie had all delivered a new proposition, generated a minimum of £10m in first-year sales, and maintained at least 85% of year-one sales in year two.

The full report will be available from Nielsen.com later this month.

Data sourced from Nielsen; additional content by Warc staff