Every business is different but successful product performance is dependent on a few simple, yet often overlooked principles. Here's some of our thoughts on what makes great product performance work. 

1.     Define the problem your product will solve or the gap in the market it will fill. All successful new products are a response to a consumer problem. Make sure that your idea is something consumers are looking for, rather than innovation for the sake of it. After 250 years in the spirits and beer business, Diageo has recently recognised the opportunity in non-alcoholic drinks and invested in the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit, Seedlip. The investment is a response to reduced alcohol consumption in Western Europe and there being a gap in the market for soft drinks for the health conscious consumer.

2.     Build a strong team. The difference between success and failure is in a great team. If you’re working to develop exciting new food products, then take your team out on inspiration adventures: to eat, start conversations around tastes, quality and flavour. It’ll not only help to get the creative juices flowing, but in time will help you benchmark together, too. A product team that communicates and collaborates effortlessly and works together towards shared objectives will be more effective in delivering in a successful product.

3.     Run regular product testing. Reviewing your product against the original brief for alignment and continuous testing of alternative options is key to making the best product possible. Rushing testing and skipping processes to deliver to a deadline is counterproductive. In the early 1990s, Persil had always had dominance over Ariel, but as its popularity began to wane it added a new ‘accelerator’. So far so good, only the magic ingredient in the new Persil Power was too powerful for general use and left clothes in shreds. Unilever was forced to write off £57m worth of stock. Insufficient testing by a small company could cost you your business. Find out how VYPR can help you with this for FREE.

4.     Always test with consumers. Consumer insight is essential for new product development. The best way to understand your customer, establish their needs and explore market potential is via a platform such as VYPR (shameless plug!), which combines both data and behavioral science. About five years ago Tropicana, took the recognisable picture of an orange of their cartons and replaced it with a clean new logo. People didn't recognise the new clean-cut logo and their sales dropped 20% in one month. A loss that could have been easily avoided with a round of consumer testing ahead of launch.

5.     Secure your intellectual property. When you hit upon a brilliant idea and discover no one else is doing it, protect it quickly before sharing it with agencies, suppliers and customers! Think about registering new brand names and product logos as trademarks and – if there is innovation in the design – protect your most precious product characteristic.

6.     Plan your marketing approach. It might not seem like the most pressing task, but it’s important to think about how and where your product will be sold, as early on as possible. How will it sell off the fixture in a busy supermarket? Map out your sales channels and explore whether you will need a website and how you will drive traffic to that site. Even the biggest companies can get it wrong. Branding experts blamed poor marketing and a confused proposition for the failure of ‘natural born cola’ Pepsi RAW. It wasn’t obvious to customers whether it was organic, low calorie or an energy drink.

7.     Implement a post launch review. It might feel like time to sit back and put your feet up, but success is dependent on reviewing and refining your product post launch. Evaluating product sales, supplier performance, complaints, tasting panels and press coverage will help you assess what’s working and what isn’t. Once your product is available to buy on the shelves is another great time to carry out consumer testing. You can keep refining the product throughout the product lifetime, using a tool like VYPR.

8.     Embrace failure if your product isn’t successful. Acknowledging failures along the way and confronting them can be transformative to your business. A progressive attitude to failure, being honest when things haven’t gone according to plan, working out why and making changes can often be the turning point on the path to success.  Ever wondered where WD-40 got its name? The lab hit the right formula on the 40th attempt. 

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