Consumer insights key to new product success

10 February 2010

LONDON: New products with strong ethical credentials, and which consistently react to the latest consumer insights, are the most likely to enjoy long-term success, a study from Datamonitor has found.

According to the company, more than 1,600 "product innovations" were launched worldwide in the FMCG category from 2007–09, creating an "environment where it is easy for new products to become lost."

Based on an analysis of more than 100 brands across the globe, Datamonitor outlined a range of factors that can help new offerings cut through the clutter.

The first was ethical branding, an area where many manufacturers have effectively reflected changing values among shoppers by placing an emphasis on issues like health and wellbeing, or the environment.

Clorox Green Works, the "natural" cleaning range launched in the US in 2008, is one example where this approach has been implemented highly successfully.

Vicky McCrorie, an analyst at Datamonitor, said "by tapping into the consumer interest in ethical and 'green' products, Clorox managed to gain new custom."

"Green Works is now the leading green household care brand in the US, accounting for over 40% of the market share."

A strong "sensory appeal" can also prove important, be it the form of the scent of a new fragrance, or the taste of goods in the food and beverage sector.

Coca-Cola recognised this when it relaunched Mother, its energy drink brand, in Australia, after the original formula proved unpopular.

Likewise, providing something "unique and experiential" can aid differentiation in crowded segments, and, in some cases, even lead to the formation of brand-based "rituals".

Old El Paso, the Mexican food specialist, achieved this latter aim when responding to the fact that people were eating at home more frequently in the recession, and creating "Taco Night".

As the marketing surrounding this initiative focused on "reconnecting" with friends and family rather than saving money, Datamonitor suggested this platform may have a life beyond the downturn.

Such a strategy, however, can also result in competitors adopting “copycat” ideas, as was the case with Magners Irish Cider, which successfully re-invigorated the cider market in the UK.

McCrorie argued that "after huge initial success, sales began to fall as brands such as Strongbow and Bulmers piggybacked on Magners 'over the ice' message."

Similarly, O-Box was one of the first concentrated juice brands to make a real impact in China, but soon saw its dominance weaken as rival goods quickly hit store shelves.

A consistent focus on consumer insight is one way companies can both build a dedicated following for their brands, and adapt to changing conditions, Datamonitor reported.

BrewDog, which was founded in 2007, is now the largest independently owned brewery in Scotland, a result Datamonitor attributed to "hypermarketing", which is tightly tailored to its target audience.

"BrewDog achieved success by matching its product with the target consumer and ensured that everything down to the name reflected the individualistic young adult consumers' desire to opt for brands that embody self expressive values," McCrorie suggested.

Kirin Free, the alcohol-free beer, has also made considerable in-roads in Japan, with communications speaking not to drinkers who are less tolerant of alcohol, but to those who favour a non-alcoholic drink on specific occasions, like before driving.

"With sales of around 2.5 million cases in only five months, Kirin Free has captured the imagination of consumers wanting to enjoy a beer type of drink without the downside of alcohol," said McCrorie.

By contrast, Essensis, a range of yoghurt introduced by Danone in France in 2007, promised to improve the appearance of skin, but did not take root, due to a popular lack of "innovation readiness".

Max Factor, Procter & Gamble's make-up range, is also due to be discontinued in the US this year, having failed to reflect Americans' preference for more subtle colours than their European counterparts.

Data sourced from Datamonitor; additional content by Warc staff