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Even Great New Products Need Time To Find Their Market (USA)
Director, Consumer Insight
Products may come out of the chute as Best New Product Award 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 34 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 Health & Personal Care at 42%, Household Care at 40%, Beauty at 26%, and Food at 24%.
Certain products break out with a large share-of-voice, retail coverage and strong marketing messages, such as Sensodyne Complete Protection (77 percent of awareness among purchasers of Sensitive Oral Care products), and Vicks NyQuil and DayQuil Severe (80 percent awareness among recent Cough & Cold Remedy purchasers).
These standout products also include those competing in sub-categories with exceptionally engaged shoppers such as Barilla Gluten Free Pasta (82 percent awareness among purchasers of Gluten-Free Pasta), or Pedigree Dentastix (78 percent of awareness among purchasers of Dog Dental Health products).
Yet, some of the best new products in the program fall below the average awareness, indicating a strong potential market not fully tapped. Minute Rice Multi Grain Medley (winner, Best New Product in Rice) was one such example at 11 percent awareness vs. the 24% food average.
Another was Olay Fresh Effects Dew Over! Hydrating Gel Moisturizer (winner, Best New Product in Women’s Skin Care), which had 13 percent awareness in a busy category.
While 34 percent of category shoppers, on average, indicated awareness of a given BNPA finalist, conversion to trial was the next challenge. Just 15 percent of category shoppers reported having tried the average product in the program. 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, consumer endorsements, and awards, and clarify their products’ differentiation with up-to-date benefit communication that resonates with shoppers.