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New product innovation works best without boss, Nielsen study finds

BY Allison Cerra

LAS VEGAS As the Consumer 360 Conference continues, market research firm Nielsen has unveiled a study that investigates why some manufacturers see more success from their consumer packaged goods products than others.

Nielsen’s research of the innovation processes at 30 large CPG companies operating in the United States revealed that companies with less senior management involvement in the new product development process generated 80% more new product revenue than those with heavy senior management involvement. Companies that employ this and other best innovation practices derived on average 650% more revenue from new products compared with companies that do not.

Nielsen’s evaluation showed that CPG companies with the most successful new product innovation records tend to have:

  • Two to three stage gates that are followed strictly across the organization. The first stage gate typically is designed to identify ideas that then will be developed into a concept and prototype, while the last stage gate usually is designed to determine whether a product should be committed to production and market;
  • A focus on growing brands, not ones acquired or designated by senior management;
  • A development focus two to three years out;
  • A formal scorecard to provide structure to organizational learning;
  • A standardized and required post-mortem on all new product development efforts; and
  • A knowledge management system to retain learnings from previous product launches.

“New product innovation is a top priority of every major company CEO, yet success varies so widely that it’s absolutely critical to understand what drives successful innovation and what undermines it,” said Tom Agan, SVP and managing director for Nielsen. “Once you understand it, then you need to ask yourselves, ‘Are we living it?'”

“One of the keys to successful new product innovation is to manage new ideas lightly,” Agan added. “While we don’t dispute senior management’s strengths and good intentions, they are often too quick to get involved in the creative process, especially when things are not going well, and their mere presence can stifle free-thinking and boundaryless ideas — which can doom the new product development process to failure.”

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Cougar Mints are on the (market) prowl

BY Allison Cerra

RIVERSIDE, Ill. A new pheromone-infused breath mint is gearing up to be a top-selling product this summer.

Cougar Mints, a breath mint product geared toward women, contains pheremones to trigger human response from those who smell them, according to Promotionalproducts.org — specializing in trade show giveaways — which is considering the product among its “Summer Hottest Sellers” list.

“These mints have only been available for a couple of months and we can barely keep them in stock,” says Tim Mercer, general manager of Promotionalproducts.org. “Not only are the mints popular, but [many] businesses that are looking for a giveaway at conventions.”

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Consumers become more ‘calorie conscious,’ survey shows

BY Allison Cerra

NEW YORK Health and weight management are on the minds and plates of consumers nationwide, with 43% of surveyed consumers paying more attention to calorie counts than they were two years ago.

In the new Shopping for Health survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Food Marketing Institute and Prevention, a Rodale Inc. magazine, more than 1,423 adult shoppers polled said sodium levels are the new top nutrition label concern (66%), tied with fat (66%) and followed closely by sugar/artificial sweeteners (65%) and calories (60%). Compared with last year, more than one-third of shoppers say they’re buying products with more grains (whole grain, 49%; multigrain, 40%), fiber (39%), low-fat (37%) and low-sodium (34%).

“This research is extremely valuable as supermarkets promote the health and wellness of their customers as a central part of their mission. Most important, it tells us what consumers need to learn about eating healthy foods and how we can best help them as company dietitians teach customers how to improve their diets through store tours, cooking classes and other educational programs,” said Leslie Sarasin, FMI president and CEO.

But while 25% of shoppers said it’s acceptable for the taxation of unhealthy foods, one-third of shoppers are attracted to utilizing grocery list apps and 24% are spending more time in the grocery store than before the economic crash, precision is not necessarily on the minds of consumers, the survey noted:

  • 9% actively count how many calories they consume
  • 50% say they just watch their calories
  • 41% don’t watch at all

“America’s calorie conundrum: more attention does not mean more precision,” said Cary Silvers, Prevention’s director of consumer insights. “While many American’s are paying more attention to calories, they have a long way to go towards knowing how many they consume in an average day. This is the next line of opportunity in calorie management.”

Click here to view or purchase the full report.

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