james graemer quote web

For many fmcg categories, attracting completely new users is the only way to create the type of growth that brand owners and retailers can get excited about. This relies on doing something new and different. Involving the people who buy your products in this process is fundamental, but just asking them what they want often doesn’t reflect how they behave and feel in real life.

Put them in an awkward focus group and they will follow the herd or lie to themselves - particularly when it comes to nutrition and health, as they default to expected behaviours and a tendency to over-exaggerate. Well, we’ve all done it. But this makes a different approach to research even more important.

This was brought home to me recently when we were involved in a new product development process for MaxiNutrition’s protein range, Gen-P. We found the motivation behind women exercising is now far less about the aesthetic of being skinny and much more about feeling strong, both physically and mentally.

The original brief from GSK combined a gap in the market identified by Boots with growing noise around ‘strong-not-skinny’ and the anti ‘beach-ready’ movements, also reflected in Sport England’s latest This Girl Can campaign. It’s streets away from how sport has been portrayed in the past and it’s clearly resonating and increasing the participation of women in exercise.

As part of the NPD process, we worked with GSK’s sports scientists and personal trainers, but most importantly then walked a mile in the shoes of our audience, engaging with them before, during and after group workouts. While the group, and our team, were still exhausted, sweaty and sticky, the exercise class gave their honest feedback. For them, feeling fit was about positivity and self-confidence rather than body image alone.

This ability for brands and campaigns to truly understand new consumers is crucial in driving growth. By crafting a proposition based in real behavioural insight, in real world relevance rather than stereotypes, fmcg brands can demonstrate their roles in the moments that matter to consumers.

James Graemer, strategy director at LIFE