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Even Great New Products Need Time To Find Their Market
Director, Consumer Insight
Products may come out of the chute as BNPA winners, but their second and third years can be when marketers turn these hit innovations into long-term strong contributors to the top and bottom lines.
As innovation becomes increasingly important to achieving meaningful product and brand differentiation, and to maintaining price margins in the face of intense competition, the product life cycle is moving faster than ever.
While brands are successfully introducing many consumer-resonant innovations (such as the 2015 Best New Product Awards [BNPA] winners), it is more difficult to find the resources to continue to give them the marketing support they need as they head into their second and third years of existence.
Yet all but the biggest blockbuster products head into their second year with a majority of category shoppers who simply aren’t aware of the product yet. At just this approximate point in their cycle, the average BNPA finalist saw just 37 percent of its category shoppers aware of the product.
This means that even a strong set of innovative products – most of them hand-picked by brands or the BNPA team as those with a good shot at earning a real-purchaser-based endorsement – struggled to achieve awareness with most members of the target market.
Awareness rates varied slightly by segment, with the average in the 2015 BNPA program across the Food segment at 35 percent, for Personal Care (non-beauty) at 39 percent, Household Care at 43 percent, and Beauty, lowest, at 28 percent.
Certain products break out with a large share-of-voice and strong marketing messages, such as Gillette Fusion ProGlide with Flexball (85 percent of awareness among purchasers of Men’s Shaving Products), and McCafe Coffee (69 percent awareness of availability as pre-ground coffee among Coffee purchasers).
These standout products also include those competing in a sub-category with exceptionally engaged shoppers such as Catelli Gluten Free Pasta (69 percent awareness among purchasers of Gluten-Free Pasta), or Crisco One-Cup Stick All-Vegetable Shortening (59 percent awareness among Baking Ingredient purchasers).
Yet, some of the best new products in the program fall below the average awareness, indicating a strong potential market not fully tapped. CoverGirl+Olay The Depuffer (winner, Best New Product in Concealer) was one such example at 14 percent awareness in a busy category.
Another was Glad Stand Up Bags (winner, Best New Product in Food Storage), which brought strong innovation to a household staple category at 18 percent awareness.
While 37 percent of category shoppers indicated awareness, on average, conversion to trial is the next challenge. And in that regard, just 15 percent of category shoppers reported having tried the typical BNPA participant. Among shoppers who were aware of the products but had not purchased, almost half of them rejected the products for one of two key reasons: competitive preference, and price.
So, even for products that have faced the consumer test of real usage at home and have come out with strong repeat rates and other indicators of superior performance, focused efforts to build awareness and drive trial remain impactful in the products’ second and third years.
Brands can reinforce competitive superiority with claims and consumer endorsements, and clarify their products’ differentiation with up-to-date benefit communication that resonates with shoppers.