Highlights

  • Understanding the Market

  • Landscape Study: A Recommended Approach

  • Evaluating the Product

Understanding the Market

In order to manage your company’s product portfolio and be successful in the marketplace, you need to understand many factors, including brand strategy and growth options but one of the most important is the product itself.

Things to Consider:

  • What are market requirements and desires?
  • Does white space exist?
  • How does your product compare with the competition?
  • Which attributes are the most important for your customers?
  • What opportunities exist to optimize your product?

New U.S. food and beverage product introductions in retail outlets, as tracked by Mintel’s Global New Product Database (Mintel GNPD), have followed an upward trend since the late 1990s, and a relatively flat trend since 2004. But even in the last few years, there were about 20,000 new food products on the grocery shelves each year. But only 20-30% of these products will sustain or grow sales in the market during their first two years. 

Landscape Study: A Recommended Approach

So how do you create something that will sustain itself in the market? A landscape study will provide a solid foundation to launch products.

While traditional consumer evaluations can give us a useful insight into the preference of a particular product among competitors, it still lacks the ability to directly tie consumer liking to individual product attributes. For example, if we talk about strawberry ice cream, some of these attributes can be too sweet, not sweet enough, not strong enough strawberry flavor, too creamy or not creamy enough, not enough strawberry pieces, etc.

If a trained descriptive panel of 10-12 individuals also evaluates the same product and clearly describes the different attributes of it creating a product lexicon, then you will have a much better understanding of your product. This is a good base to start your product development efforts from. You might get attributes such as jammy character, fresh berry character, artificial strawberry character instead of just plain strawberry flavor.

Evaluating the Product

When you want to evaluate your product you need to start with a large selection of product samples that represent the category of interest. Naturally, these samples must be blinded for evaluation. A larger number of consumers (100-200 people) would then evaluate the samples. After having your consumer evaluations and the descriptive data from your panel, you might want to obtain analytical chemistry and physical data as well.

This data: sugar content, fat content, viscosity level, the proportion of fruit inclusion in our example of strawberry ice cream – can be used in modeling to determine if relationships exist with overall liking. Statistics can be applied to all these data points in order to produce the models that prioritize drivers of liking. In fact, this is the most important finding in a landscape study – it will help you understand how the key sensory characteristics relate to the overall liking of the products.

After analyzing all data, it will be clear where your product stands among competitors. There might be different segments of consumer groups emerging, who like different attributes and prefer other products than the rest of the consumer group – this is great information for targeting a specific population segment. The data can also help you to prioritize your product development efforts.

What can Mérieux NutriSciences do for you?

Mérieux NutriSciences provides sensory and consumer insights testing services including trained sensory panels, consumer preference studies, and physical and analytical testing services. We support product developers in their quest to design products that delight consumers.

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