Testing wisely for an uncertain future

A smart approach to FMCG product introduction and relaunch

As shoppers’ wants and needs continue to evolve amid today’s disruptions, FMCG brands, marketers, and retailers need to adapt. New or reimagined products can be indispensable to differentiate a brand at a time of change; in fact, in a 2019 Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) article, 97% of CPG CEOs interviewed said Innovation was a key pillar in their strategic plan to drive growth for the company.         

In a recent webinar and Thinking Ahead podcast episode, GfK’s Neal Heffernan and Susan Stacey delved into the advantages of in-market testing – separating products and branding changes with a strong chance of success from those that will likely struggle. In today’s uncertain environment, ensuring the viability of every product introduction or relaunch is key.

In GfK’s recent Consumer Pulse survey, 31% of respondents said they purchased a brand in the past week that they normally wouldn’t have because their preferred brand was out of stock. Even more notable, 1 in 4 of these people said they found brands they like better and will continue to buy post-crisis. This creates a huge problem for incumbent brands – and a powerful incentive to launch new or improved SKUs.

In the webinar presentation, Heffernan and Stacey also discussed the rise in online shopping, and how that has changed the shopping landscape. While the majority of consumers are still choosing to shop in-store, many are now buying equally online and in-store -- changing the way consumers interact with brands, and creating a new need to study consumers interacting with your products in actual store environments.

>Watch the webinar on-demand

Key testing areas to test your brand and product

1. New Product/line extensions

Brands continue to face considerable challenges in developing and launching new products that will ultimately succeed.  In truth, 85% of new product launches fail to meet revenue needs & expectations.

2. Packaging Changes

It can be very tempting to make a change to a brand’s packaging – and while changes can be positive, there is also a level of risk when creating new branding. In Thinking Ahead’s recent podcast episode, Stacey explains how package changes are TWICE as likely to hurt brand sales as to help.

3. In-Store Testing

In-Store innovations have always been an essential area for testing due to the substantial money and resources required to launch across retailers and channels.

Before testing, do your homework. Study the specific paths other products have taken, both in your category and outside, to see what has worked for others -- and what hasn’t. Also, make sure your new product or brand is better AND different from competitive offerings.

For more information on in-market testing, use these resources: