Innovation matters. But, it’s no secret that new product failure rates – especially in the grocery sector – are extremely high. Successful product launches can often be the key to delivering real incremental dollar growth to a mature category or manufacturer who is trying to compete in a low growth environment.
The Nielsen Global New Product Innovation Survey found that around the world, consumers have a strong appetite for innovation. In fact, close to three in five (57%) global consumers said they had bought a new product in their last grocery shop. Australian consumers, by comparison, appear more skeptical when it comes to trying out new products, falling 20 percentage points below the global average at 37%.
And this air of caution extends to the key motivating factors and limitations behind trialling new products. Only a quarter (26%) of Australian consumers said they were early purchasers of new product innovation (compared to 39% globally), while more than half (52%) said they would wait until the innovation has proven itself before buying. Trust in established or known brands is extremely important with 58% saying they preferred to buy new products from familiar brands and 54% preferred to purchase new products from local or large global brands.
Convenience (24%) and affordability (23%) tops our list of reasons for purchasing a new product. Price is a particularly important barrier to entry with just 34% of consumers saying they are willing to pay a premium for innovative new products – 10 percentage points lower than the global average of 44%.
And when it comes to the new products Aussie consumers wish were available but are not currently, products at affordable prices are the most desired by a wide margin. Forty percent of respondents say they wish more affordable products were available, 12 percentage points above the next-highest attribute – products made of natural ingredients (28%). This was followed by products fitting a healthy lifestyle (21%) and new food products (20%).
In Australia, where consumers are clearly more skeptical and more hesitant to part with their money when it comes to trialling a new product, a brand name can be one of the most valuable assets a company can possess. It can lend credibility to product efficacy and provide an assurance of quality, letting consumers know what they can expect when they buy a product. To this end, line extensions can be extremely advantageous. Line extensions are approximately three to four times more common than “new manufacturer” and “new brand” launches combined.
While a brand extension can provide a strong foundation for success, it doesn’t guarantee it. In fact, a line extension not managed well could actually harm the parent brand. To protect a brand’s reputation, a line extension should clearly link with the core product while also offering consistency, uniqueness and relevance in the market.
Innovation that offers a real functional difference and offers consumers convenience will also fare well. Take the coffee category for example. According to the latest Nielsen ScanTrack Consumer data, the coffee category has grown by 13% (an incremental $26.4 million) in value across Australian supermarkets in the year ending January 2015. This is an incredible feat for a mature category in a low growth grocery environment. Innovation in the form of capsules is the key driver of growth injecting an additional $29.1 million and driving category value up through premiumisation and increased frequency of purchase.
Successful product launches are the culmination of organisational focus and commitment to product development, creative marketing, smart leadership and, above all else, an in-depth understanding of what drives consumer preferences. Savvy manufacturers are those who don’t just sell their products at lower prices or on promotion, rather they build cost-cutting into the product development and design process. Cost driven innovation requires letting go of traditional assumptions, and it starts with understanding what tradeoffs consumers will make when they can’t afford a product.
The Nielsen Global New Product Innovation Survey was conducted between Feb. 23 - March 13, 2015, and polled more than 30,000 consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on its Internet users and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers. It has a margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based only on the behavior of respondents with online access. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60% Internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.