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Avoiding New Product Research Pitfalls

In order to maximise the efficiency of their marketing investment, many brand owners are extending their brands into new categories. The new products may be superior to existing offers in the category, they may have lots of new features and potential benefits, or they may be me-toos with a tweak and a twist rather than a transformation of the consumer experience. In each case the assumption is often that a key driver of the appeal of the line extensions is consumer engagement with the brand itself.

This is an understandable ambition. However, it is well known that success is far from guaranteed and that launching new products that really do extend the experience of a brand is a great challenge. There are a number of reasons for this, not least amongst them being the difficulty of getting a true read of an idea’s potential through the research process.

If consumers like and admire, or frankly, don’t actively dislike the brand that is being researched they will respond with a relatively positive sounding ‘why not?’ in testing. However, once judged in the category context the brand can be seen to lack the compelling reason for the consumer to choose it above a familiar and established choice – even if it has greater brand fame than the existing selection.

Therefore it is relatively easy for brand owners to gain permission from consumers to extend a brand into new categories. It is altogether more difficult to achieve persuasion so that they change behaviour to adopt the new entrant over their usual brand.

Over years of navigating this difficult course, and advising our clients on the opportunities and pitfalls of brand extension, Tangible has developed an actionable research approach which:

  1. Gives the best advice on what new products need to deliver to make a compelling and persuasive brand extension
  2. Assesses extension ideas for greatest persuasion potential within the brand’s key equities and against the competition
  3. Identifies the gap between persuasion on shelf compared to that intended, with recommendations to optimise performance through amended execution and communication

Our approach uses a mix of qualitative and quantitative tools to discover the true and distinctive equities, values and benefits of the brand and how these are experienced and signalled to potential consumers through product and pack.

As it drives into the subconscious and hidden associations of the brand it gives a richer and more meaningful response than that which is limited by the rational response often given by consumers. These distinctive benefits and values are those that can most fruitfully be used as development guides and springboards for product briefs. The result: the proposed extension is more compelling and persuasive within the category. And more likely to succeed.

The Tangible approach has 2 stages:

Brand Distinction

This involves qualitative methods with emotional and behavioural loyalists of the brand using the MSA (meaning structure analysis) technique to identify the distinctive benefits and values attributed to it in the context of the category and competitive set.

The Communication Gap

Our research experience is that ‘looking like the brand is there already’ is an effective way to remove the inherent consumer barrier of newness and unfamiliarity to a new category/product from a familiar/new brand. It takes mocked up products, in packaging, and subjects it to the toughest test, the pick up, amongst a quantitative sample using a realistic shop fixture.

An qualitative analysis of any gap between the pick up test and interest in the concept diagnoses the communication gap between the execution of the product (in form, format, packaging presentation) and the intention of the new product.

Please get in touch to find out more about avoiding the pitfalls of new product development research.