He noted that in 2014 the number of new CPG product launches fell 4.6%, which continues a trend started in 2013 when new CPG launches fell 4.2% from the previous year. This trend is not a sign of manufacturers losing interest in launches, but rather companies being more intentional about how they invest resources, Levin said.
“Marketing research groups and innovation groups are really looking more deeply at places to make their innovations. They are not trying to be all things to all people, but rather really putting together better niche innovations,” he added.
These more specialized launches can create a tough competitive landscape. But analysis of new products that succeed in capturing consumers’ attention reveal several specific strategies that can accelerate growth, said Susan Viamari, editor of IRI’s Thought Leadership. She noted during a recent IRI webinar that these strategies include:
- Emphasizing simplicity – “Simplicity really does well – it is a superstar in the CPG world because we are all so busy,” said Viamari. She noted that the most powerful new launches deliver simplicity in clean ingredient lists and on-the-go convenience items that “make life easier” for consumers.
- Raising the bar – Consumers want simplicity from new products, but they don’t want to sacrifice results, Viamari said. “Technology and know-how is really allowing CPGs to do a great job in this area,” including in the delivery of gourmet foods or products that allow consumers to achieve professional results in the home, she said.
- Helping consumers escape – “We all know that feeling we want to relax and indulge, but we don’t have the time or money or inclination to get there, so CPG products that allow consumers to escape quickly, conveniently and inexpensively are really hitting the mark with consumers today,” Viamari said. This translates to food and beverage as bold, exciting flavors and all encompassing aromas.
- Balancing price versus value – “Providing a solid value proposition is really an important part of ensuring new product success,” but that doesn’t mean low prices, Viamari said. She noted that several top performing new launches in 2014 were priced at a substantial premium, such as Skinny Pop popcorn, which sold for 72% more than the segment average.
- Leveraging deals to drive trial – One way to communicate value is through price promotions, which can help build brand awareness and initial trial immediately following a launch. Top launches in 2014 often indexed 24-94% higher on promotions than the segment average. While offering deals is important for getting brands off the ground, companies don’t want to overly rely on them in the long term, Viamari said.
- Understanding media preferences – Marketing is essential, but can be resource intense, which is why companies need to know not just what media channel their target consumers use, but their specific preferences down to the radio channel, television program and magazine title to ensure resources are used efficiently, Viamari said.
- Leveraging co-marketing opportunities – Co-marketing and co-merchandizing programs are a great way to reach consumers who have a propensity to buy your products, but who might not know about or be looking for your new product.
- Mining social media to identify consumer patterns – Track which social media platforms generate the most traction for new products and more heavily invest in those spaces rather than across all social media, Viamari said. Firms also should examine how consumers use social media to talk about the product and brand, and what else those consumers are discussing to identify their passions and other interests.
- Drilling down on channels – “The bottom line is consumers are not going to go out and look for new products. I tis up to you to understand where consumers are going, when they want to buy your category and your brand, and then you need to ensure your brand is there,” said Viamari, adding not all shelves are equal for all brands.
- Continuing to invest in launches after the first year – Hitting the $100 million mark in the first year may be a thing of the past, but many of the most successful launches do it in the second year because they continue to focus on advertising, strong merchandising programs, coupon support, broadening distribution and growing shelf space, concluded Lavin.