I have talked about two critical success factors for fmcg innovation: ambitious product design and a compelling category rationale. So what is the final factor? Sustained launch support. Even if you have a brilliant product, your chance of success will be greater if you put in place the right package of marketing, point of sale and promotions.
What are the important elements of sustained launch support? Here are five.
First, prime the shopper. If you can afford consumer advertising, make sure you know what your visual ID is (the definitive visual element of your brand) and use it consistently and repetitively. If there could be any doubt, tell shoppers where to find the product - in which stores and in which aisle. If Jaffa Cakes were launched today, it would be important to tell shoppers they can be found in the biscuit aisle.
Second, simplify in-store marketing messages. Shoppers read little and only process a fraction of what they see. Use one visual and a handful of words. Make the whole thing as easy to process as possible.
Third, promote strategically. Despite promotional de-escalation in parts of the market, you will almost certainly need regular promotional support to succeed. Planning this early in the innovation process is key. You need a pack size, cost of goods and likely shelf price that make regular promotions commercially viable for the supplier and the retailer. When you do promote, think carefully about the level of discount. You are looking for a discount that is enough to tempt shoppers, but not so much as to call into question the fairness of the regular price.
Fourth, span the purchase interval. A category may only be bought once every 10 weeks (so 10 weeks is the average purchase interval). If so, what would be the rationale for an in-store marketing launch that only lasts three weeks? That misses up to 70% of shoppers. If it makes sense in week one, it probably makes sense in week six. At the minimum, stretch your launch activity to cover the whole of the category purchase interval.
Finally, think like a parent. It takes a long time before a child can truly look after itself, and the same is true of product innovation. Think and plan commercially in terms of years, not weeks. If fmcg companies spent less time thinking about “what will we launch next year?” and more time thinking “how will we nurture this year’s innovation, so it grows again next year?”, the industry would be in a better, more sustainable place.
So: an ambitious product, a genuine category rationale, then sustained launch support. Deliver all three, and you are well set for long-term success.
Jeremy Garlick is a partner of Insight Traction