Sir, True NPD needs to be given significant time and financial support to become really established (‘This industry needs innovation more than ever,’ Hot Topic, 6 August, p3). A manufacturer can’t launch an NPD on its own. It needs the support of all the major UK retailers and for two or three years, not six months. Under the various range rationalisations, this is more and more of a barrier.
If an NPD is truly bringing something different, it requires heavy investment above and below the line to encourage trial. But in today’s climate it is very difficult to secure more than 40% distribution in year one of a launch. With this in mind, how can a brand justify TV advertising when the product will not be on the shelf of more than half the stores in the country? But without this support, how can you expect a new product to be a success? It is a chicken and egg situation.
The other option has always been heavy price promotions, but again there is a move within most retailers to reduce the number of promotion slots. This seems particularly the case when it comes to securing end space on products that are in a relatively low number of stores and are still fighting to establish a decent base rate of sale. After the initial launch plan, securing further end promotions can be tough.
Of course, if a new product does not deliver almost immediately it becomes liable for range rationalisation.
If retailers do not take a longer-term view on helping build NPD for the sake of the category, then suppliers will not be able to afford to launch as much NPD as in the past. Tony Burton, sales director, Bel UK