The NPD Food & Drink Conference

December 7, 2017

The recent NPD Food & Drink conference gave us plenty of food for thought.


In October, we attended the NPD Food & Drink conference, along with representatives from across the Food & Drink category. While we celebrated the successes, it also reiterated that the NPD failure rate remains far too high. However, it also gave us valuable insight on how to maximise the chances of success:


The initial spark of your next big idea is already out there


The question is where. Across the successes championed on the day this came from within the existing category, adjacent categories and indeed further afield such as monitoring global trends. It could be a case of revisiting a previously shelved idea and adapting it to make it a success, or speaking directly to your consumers to find out what they really want.


In the example Mars UK shared, it was as straightforward as “Give me a great M&Ms product that’s also a great ice cream”, whereas for Weetabix it was marrying the innovative (protein) with their trusted heritage to develop the biggest launch in cereal in 2016.


You need ownership, belief and commitment


Just as integral to your product’s success is this commitment in your NPD; it is hard enough for products to succeed in the first place but it is doubly so if doubts begin to creep in from the outset. This theme came up again and again, emphasising the importance of having full confidence in your NPD, from across the organisation.


One of the companies demonstrated their commitment by including belief and active support of their product launches in the objectives of the senior management.


Our perception and knowledge of health and healthy eating has changed irrevocably


There is no going back. Veganism/vegetarianism is mainstream and consumers are far more questioning of the ‘goodness’ offered by brands than ever before.


We heard from the Head of Product Development & Quality at Harrods who reiterated that “It is no longer simply about high quality ingredients; consumers want authenticity and craftmanship as well”.


So, what about the products themselves?


While a number of the themes explored were not new news, it is still important to remember these to help optimise future success:


Be sure you have identified a genuine consumer need


Diageo shared an example you may remember; Guinness Red. This product, in the words of their Innovation Director for Europe, “created a non-existent headache” – it was created to solve a problem that didn’t exist and as a result did not perform well.


Be distinct, and be succinct


Understand who your competition is and differentiate your offer, not just from the competitors but also from the rest of your portfolio. More critically, you should be able to explain your product and its USP. This was mentioned in various guises from “Imagine you are describing it to your granny” to the “elevator pitch”.


Be holistic


And not just at the end, take this approach from an early stage. When creating your concept, think about what the final product will look like as an offer to your consumers; e.g. what will the packaging look like?


Be agile and prepare to adapt along the way


Diageo’s Innovation Director shared the example of Smirnoff Fruit Cider, which was launched early and went on to become the second fastest selling fruit cider for the customers where it was on sale, not bad.


Being able to see when your concept is good enough is also important. The Global Strategy Director for Kids drinks at Britvic takes a straightforward approach; “Done is better than perfect”.


And finally, “Enjoy the ride!”


If you would like help to prepare for the challenges of meeting the ever-changing needs of the consumer or would just like to share your views and opinions, please get in touch by calling Stuart Grant on 01932 226793.


You can also find out more by signing up to hear our latest updates and learnings, and reading the latest case studies on our website.







At Impact Research we understand the challenges you are facing and work with you to further optimise your brief from the outset, offering up a bespoke, method neutral and flexible solution from day 1. We work with you to get to the heart of the decision-making process and help you to maximise your return on future investment.

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