Your innovative new brand is about to fly – and it’s an absolute gamechanger. What can possibly go wrong, asks Danielle Pinnington
There’s an often quoted stat from Nielsen data that says 90 percent of all new products fail in their first year. That’s a big number by any standards, which means at least 90 percent of NPD investment is wasted – and that’s just the finance in the NPD that actually makes it to the fixture. Yet when we talk to shoppers about how the category or brand experience in-store can be improved, they will always spontaneously include NPD in their list of suggestions. There is clearly a huge gap between what shoppers say they want, and what they are actually prepared to do…or is there? Are shoppers really to blame, or is it down to those looking after the NPD?
How often, when your business is planning a launch, do the team involved head into a store to check out the competition, or consider getting the shopper perspective on what you’re about to do? This might seem like a rather frivolous use of time, or duplication of the effort expended researching among consumers, but in fact it can be crucial because the context in which your NPD is going to sit has a considerable impact on how it will be perceived.
In one project, we spent time with shoppers to review a number of concepts that had tested very well in focus groups. Unfortunately, what we found when bringing the store environment into the conversation was that no amount of NPD was going to work. There was a much bigger issue around the location and merchandising of the category in-store. The lack of interest among retailers meant this category was often in low footfall locations, the shelves were regularly out of stock, and there was a general feeling of lack of interest. And if shoppers think the retailer doesn’t care, then why should they care either? Any expensive NPD was going to struggle to do anything other than steal a bit of share – it could hardly bring in new users if new users were unlikely to venture anywhere near the category in the first place. Another considerable hurdle for NPD can be exactly where to be located in-store. All too often, we see this key decision being governed by commercial or brand agendas, rather than a shopper driven rationale. The retailer will often dictate location, based on space planning needs; the brand owner, on the other hand, might have a go at securing space next to the parent brand in order to create a visible brand block. But who’s to say that either of these locations will maximise the sales potential? If your NPD is truly innovative, game changing, or category disrupting (or all three), shoppers need to see it as that in-store. The last thing you want is for it to be adjacent to similar products and run the risk of consumers looking at it through jaded or blinkered eyes, and their preconceived category ideas as they rush to get their shopping done. You want to wow them, stop them dead, and make them re-evaluate their choices. A clear understanding of the shopping process and the purchase decision priorities will ultimately drive a more informed decision regarding store placement. But before you worry that this sounds like a pitch for additional research spend, actually a quick bit of immersion in the environment in which the NPD has to win, could be all you need.
In the end, there’s a myriad of reasons why a product can fail. However, we believe at least one of those reasons can be alleviated by including the shopper context, not just consumer response, in the innovation funnel.