Developing a Framework for Agile New Product Development in CPG

Published Aug 23, 2021

Lucia Juliano, Head of FMCG Research at Harris Interactive

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New product development is the lifeblood of most businesses and brands in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. Being on top of consumers’ emerging wants and needs, or responding to new products from your competitors, is key to maintaining relevance. And CMOs know it. In fact, a recent survey from Gartner found that 45% of CMOs planned to introduce new products as their primary strategy to fuel growth in 2021.

However, there are a lot of resources required to bring new products to market, making it a risky proposition in the absence of proper planning. How can you ensure your next NPD initiative is a success? These three questions will help shape your approach and identify the proper tools and methods needed—regardless of where you stand in the development cycle.

What are the objectives for your NPD effort?

It may sound overly simplistic at face value, but having clarity on the goal of your NPD effort will enable you to determine the research tools and methods that will best suit your needs. Many new products operate as extensions of existing offers—such as new flavors or claims—that are largely aimed at short-term revenue maximization. Other new product efforts may be designed for long-term staying power or developing an entirely different business opportunity. Knowing where you stand will help frame your choices for gathering data.
Some other questions to consider:

  • What are the strengths of your current portfolio? Will existing products suffer from the introduction of new ones?
  • Taking the long view, which areas of the portfolio are you updating or replacing?
  • What is the current competitive context? Moving quickly is often the key to outmaneuvering your competitors.

What data is needed to answer your NPD objectives?

There can be more than one relevant solution from a research perspective wherever you are in the development process. Each can provide answers on different aspects of your initiative. Ultimately, that breadth of learning provides you with more and richer data, which, in turn, enables evidence-based decision-making.

That evidence-based decision-making needn’t come at the expense of speed, either. Modern automated technologies have made it possible to get high-quality data without sacrificing time. To that point, we’ve had cases where 60+ claims were being tested in multiple markets. The turnaround time for results? Less than 24 hours.

What decisions will you make with that data?

In the early stages of the new product development cycle, you may be looking for solutions that help you prioritize and focus on the right ideas. If you’re closer to taking that product to market, you’ve likely passed that stage and are looking to assess potential. That’s not to suggest that NPD is a linear process. In fact, you may choose to re-work or re-validate certain stages, such as when testing new copy or creative. However, all of this should be considered when determining your research methods and identifying research tools. Put simply: what is the critical information you need to validate your plan, and what are your nice-to-haves?

Putting the NPD framework in action with CPG

To understand how you can put this framework into action, consider this example of a global food manufacturer that approached Toluna to develop an NPD process that would position their products for success.

What are your objectives? This global food manufacturer wanted to develop seamless insights into the innovation process, quickly embedding robust insight into each step of the new product development cycle.

What data is needed to answer those objectives? They had an immediate need to frequently test a high volume of new concepts and pack designs. Robust testing was needed at each stage of the innovation, and they were short on time.

What decisions will you make with that data? Using the Toluna Start platform, they’ve built an innovation framework that is ready to test each stage of the new product development cycle. Through this automated process, they’re able to perform a complete pack, concept, and TURF analysis cycle in less than 72 hours. Additionally, they’ve leveraged Toluna’s agile qualitative solutions to discuss concepts with consumers and stay on top of their lifestyles in real-time.

Keeping these questions in mind throughout the NPD cycle will enable you to derive productive, actionable use of all the data and insights that a robust research plan can provide.

Fuel success with an agile approach to New Product Development research. Download our CPG-focused eBook and compare your approach to New Product Development insights with industry benchmarks here.

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