At The Strategy Distillery, we believe that new product innovations should be built holistically in order to have the best chance of success. However, many of today’s brand extensions seem to focus too narrowly on more functional features, such as the structural packaging, the recipe name, the ingredients, the claims etc. Most of them fail to consider how to emotionally engage the consumer.
The Grocer New Product Awards
With this in mind, we took a close look at The Grocer New Product Award Winners from this year and were surprised at how many (or few) boxes these new products actually tick. Winners are chosen based on consumer tests conducted in-home and evaluation by an expert panel of judges. This year’s winners include products by Lynx, Alpro, Wrigley and FrieslandCampina.
We carried out a top level analysis of the 28 winners to see which non-functional boxes these products do tick. The results lead us to believe that some of these innovations won’t hold water for too long before a competitor side swipes them with something better.
Being done to death
Whilst it’s important that brands embrace trends when conceiving new product innovations, it’s important to remember that competitors will do the same. Unfortunately, tapping into a trend, such as nostalgia or clean eating, does not guarantee success on its own.
Over recent years, we’ve seen an influx of products doing unusual flavour pairings, mainstreaming special diets like gluten-free, bringing world cuisine to your table at home and majoring on healthy ingredients (e.g. grains, greens, omegas – the list goes on). In our opinion, over half of The Grocer New Product Awards winners are relying on tapping trends alone.
Sadly, the way these more generic propositions are conveyed to the consumer is often second fiddle. The real challenge is how to get the product to stand out on shelf by engaging the consumer emotionally (the visual positioning, how to deliver appetite appeal, a catchy name etc.). This leads me on to the next point.
Visual positioning and naming require no capex investment, however none of the 28 winners have really raised their head above the parapet when it comes to these aspects. Cheestring Scoffies have a very memorable and relevant name (to their target audience at least). But not one single winner, in our opinion, has really staked their claim on a unique and ownable new visual positioning (vs. the category they operate in).
Benefits not features
We believe the raison d’etre of anyone working on a brand is that they should be in constant pursuit of uncovering unmet or latent consumer needs. It seems though as if some marketers have forgotten how to be marketeers. Infants Care winner Ambre Solaire, for example, have excelled themselves with their anti-sand kids sun protection lotion. Bring on some more benefit-led product propositions we say, and quell the obsession with product features. Marketing 101 – consumers buy benefits, not features.