Accessing existing data is the first step toward successful innovation; mining and modeling that data for actionable insights is the second.
Being first matters. But it’s not enough.
Those brands that are first to market with a viable product can capture a better-than-normal “fair share” of the category. Getting on shelf ahead of the competition and establishing a significant presence in the market represents a persistent advantage that can be maintained. Those that choose to follow will be challenged to enter the product space with any impact and will be left struggling to catch up. Once new entrants take volume from existing products, new introduction placements will be much tougher to attain.
That investment will not be unsubstantial. Retailers may need more shelf space, new layout, marketing, etc. Finding space for new products may also be challenging as some shoppers will remain loyal to the products they already know and space for these familiar products will need to be maintained. It could also be the case that retailers would need to expand departments to accommodate greater assortment and that is an expensive proposition.
However, achieving superior speed to market alone does not guarantee success. For a new product to find and keep customers, it must contribute measurably to a positive, healthier eating experience, provide consumers a satisfying mouthfeel and do so with maximum functionality — as shoppers have made it abundantly clear that they want it “all.” It’s a substantial list but delivering anything less means the prospects of success for a new product diminish exponentially.
Efforts will need to be ongoing.
Product launch is just the first stage in achieving innovation-driven success. Once a product has made it to shelf, marketers will need to continuously evaluate its sales performance and rate of consumer adoption. It will be critical to identify, quickly, if a product is working and if it’s not — cut it loose.
Trial, initial velocity and repeat velocity will need to be closely monitored. If trial isn’t meeting expectations, marketers should look into demos, sample offerings, etc. Benchmarks must be set with norms established and charted.
It will be incumbent on retailers to be particularly watchful and agile. Store loyalty programs and analytics capabilities should be leveraged to target shoppers, strategically promote products and evaluate where sales are coming from so that physical positioning and marketing can be adjusted as needed.
Through it all, marketers must keep heart. Failures must be acknowledged, mined for insights and then left in the rearview mirror — because what matters most is what’s ahead. Dollar share of food and consumables for traditional grocery has fallen more than 50 percent over the last 30 years and, without immediate action, this trend will only continue.
Producers and sellers have no choice but to innovate. Regardless of their failure rate, trading partners must commit to developing and marketing new products if they’re to meet consumer demand, drive incremental category growth and reverse the decline of traditional grocery.