plot9 trio

Princes has launched a new platform for retailers in hopes of working more collaboratively with them on innovation and NPD.

Called ‘Co-Labs’, the initiative would “help retailers embrace emergent trends, utilise cutting-edge technology and leverage insight to identify products that will prove commercially successful”, said Princes Group.

Through its existing innovation arm, Innov8, Princes has access to a 3,000-strong consumer panel, which would be used to “provide product feedback, co-create concepts, deliver category understanding and trial products” for Co-Labs, it said.

These insights could then be “drilled down to views on specific retailers and branded and own-label ranges, fuelling ground-breaking co-creation projects”, it added.

Innov8 has been the driving force behind several of the ambient giant’s recent launches, including U:ME spice shots, Princes fruit pots and plant-based ready meals, and vegan brand Plot 9.

Co-Labs, however, will expand beyond ambient to “encompass other temperature formats and categories”, said Princes.

Princes first unveiled plans to splash £5m on a major upheaval of its NPD strategy and capabilities in July 2020.

Part of the initial investment went towards building an innovation kitchen at its Liverpool headquarters, which will be used for the Co-Labs initiative to host live product testing and demonstrations and interactive workshops.

“We have absolute belief that our now 3,000-strong consumer community and our truly unique take on food and drink innovation is the blueprint for how retailers can keep pace,” said Princes Group marketing director Alan Eriksen.

“Co-Labs will see us partner with retailers to leverage our unique community to provide real-time insights into the categories that matter to them most, helping to create and refine future-fit innovation that meets their changing consumer needs head-on.”

Read more: Princes MD Cameron Mackintosh on coping with coronavirus and overhauling innovation