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Innovation in CPG - The 5 Step Process

Launching new products is hard. Innovation today is more challenging than ever, in a rapidly changing landscape of consumer needs, saturated product categories, and shifting consumer attitudes and behaviors. At its most basic, the innovation process goes like this:

CPG 5 Steps
  1. Consumer needs are identified. Call them what you will – unmet needs, jobs to be done, white space opportunities – some gaps in the market are pinpointed as fertile territory for a new product.
  2. Concepts are developed. A ‘long list’ of concepts or product ideas kick-starts the product development process.
  3. Concept testing & refinement. The long list becomes a shorter list, through some series of ‘stage gates’ or tests, typically through quantitative surveys.
  4. Physical products are developed. The mechanics and operations of actually producing a physical product come into play, and products (benchtop samples, prototypes, protocepts) are manufactured for early testing.
  5. Product testing & refinement. Products are tested as they move through the Research and Development process – sensory testing, pack testing, in home usage testing, concept testing, formulation (flavor/scent/efficacy) testing is executed through a variety of quantitative, qualitative, and hybrid approaches.

Let’s focus on Step 5.

You’ve developed an innovative, exciting new product and are ready to get it in front of consumers. Before launching in full-force, however, you want to get some key questions answered –

  • I’ve done all this concept testing – does the product I’ve manufactured actually live up to its claims?
  • When it comes down to it, does my target customer like it? Why or why not?
  • How can we refine the product formulation, brand, and messaging to be even stronger and more resonant?
  • How are consumers actually using or consuming my product, in the context of their everyday lives?
  • How can I start to think about product research and product testing? What sorts of quantitative and qualitative research approaches can I take? How do I think about recruitment of respondents?

To get these consumer insights and key questions answered, you can poll your team, colleagues across your company, and tap the ‘friends and family’ network that’s readily available and interested in testing your new product. This can be very helpful for the earliest feedback rounds as directional gut-check, but make sure you’re going in ‘eyes wide open’ – often times your closest friends and supporters will give feedback that’s biased, or less representative your target market.

This is where formalized product testing comes in, giving you a powerful tool to gather both qualitative and qualitative data on your product, as early as possible, to help maximize the success of your product launch and your company. Learn all about the different methods of product testing here.