We received this article from our friends over at BrandJuice. Interesting insights on how to make a product successful in the beginning stages and good insider info on what exactly it is BrandJuice does for clients. Article written and submitted by Peter Murane, president of the company. Thanks, Peter!
In consumer packaged goods, the bigger, the better. The bigger you are, the more clout you have, the more creative you can be, and the more innovative products you can bring to consumers, right? Unfortunately, that’s not as true as it could be.
While there are a number of benefits that come with being “big,” it’s more likely that if you are acting your size, you are holding yourself back from your true potential. Acting smaller allows you to be nimble and flexible. It allows you to get great ideas quicker, work more of them, move on them faster and develop them easier. It’s what will allow you to find true innovation, versus incremental line extensions and me-too products.
To do this, we’re not suggesting that you fire 200 employees and act like a start up. We’re also not telling you to spend hundreds of dollars instead of millions to develop new products or even to ditch traditional market research. You can get the benefits of amazing innovation by making just a few shifts in your mindset and changes in cultural expectations.
The first thing you should do is allow intuition in the innovation process. And, yes we know that senior management isn’t interested in investing in your “gut.” But cultures of “show me the data” have resulted in companies perpetually chasing trends and numbers instead of great ideas. If you are spending your time chasing data, you are really chasing perfection, a much bigger risk in the innovation process – you might not ever find what you need, thus wasting a lot of time and resources.
If you must have data (which is okay!) decide ahead of time what data you trust (consultant studies, BASES screen, etc.) and know what metrics matter to you. This will keep you from being paralyzed looking for the “right” answers when you should be moving on or moving forward. But more importantly, allow yourself to use information to form a direction, not a statistical answer.
One way we do this is through “battle testing.” When refining a product idea, we often develop a small batch of products that feature various packaging and communication options. Then, we set up a booth in a mall, fair or farmer’s market, for example, and see which product consumers most respond to. After we see what they buy, we are then able to talk to them about their purchases and choices. After only a few days, we know what changes to make to the product and can do a few more tests like it, in independent retailers, online retailers and other avenues. We will never know volumetrics, repeat data or projected sales in year one. But we are able to triangulate enough data points to know what product changes to make and intuit what is likely to be successful in market.
By seeking innovation certainty which simply does not exist, not only do you waste years getting to market and thousands, if not millions, of dollars in development, you also create risk adverse employees who are afraid to reach for the big idea. Due to a fear of not making growth projections, and ultimate job loss, they are handcuffed to incremental line extensions that hit minimum growth targets.
By fostering a culture of fearlessness, you allow more ideas to enter the process from every angle and every position. Shift your paradigm and reward your employees for taking risks instead of punishing them for failures. Give them credit for ideas that are 70-80% there, instead of 100% perfect (and impossible). Long-term, it is well worth the investment. You’ll be able to work more ideas, and improve your chances of finding a homerun idea.
Trash the Paper Concept
The search for perfection can also result in the over-engineering of product ideas and time wasted in focus groups and with expensive designers. It’s always a great idea to start with paper concepts – put the benefit, attributes and a product sketch on paper and see if it is worth anything to consumers. But before you find yourself trapped in the dark walls of a focus group facility, make the product and let consumers interact with it.
We know that consumers don’t buy consultant PowerPoint presentations or fancy concept boards – they buy products. By making a few and selling them, you can evolve your product in small batches, find the right messaging, formulation, recipe, whatever factor matters most to consumers and they want you to develop. And by watching consumers interact with something real, you are able to develop an instinct for why a concept does or does not work, further utilizing the gut intuition you’ve developed in the right time and place.
One of the best examples of all these ideas in action is the cleaning company Orange Glo International, makers of OxiClean, Orange Clean and Kaboom. Orange Glo developed products based on rough ideas, produced some samples and took them to home shows. By using real sales from the show combined with consumer interaction, they were able to tweak packaging, positioning and formulations to come up with a refined product they could take to retailers nationwide. They consciously chose what information and data mattered to them, made decisions based on that data and never punished their employees for a product that didn’t immediately fly off the shelves. To prove their success, they sold their brands to Church & Dwight for $325 million last year.
Instead of driving for perfection, develop cultures of risk and reward. Stop driving for perfection and the rewards you will reap are more ideas, better ideas and the ability to kill and improve those ideas efficiently. At BrandJuice, two of our core offerings are innovation and battle testing. To learn more about how we can bring these philosophies to you through our services, please contact me at peter (at) brandjuice (dot) com or call (303) 629-0560 ext 204.