from Nigel Davey, field and project manager, Retail Testing, London
Sir; re The Value of Failure (The Grocer, January 4, p27). While the giants of the fmcg industry can afford for products and even ranges to fail, and "take the positives out of the experience", many food manufacturers are much smaller and their fortunes depend upon the success or failure of their latest products.
Getting a listing with one of the top supermarket groups will significantly boost the prospects of success, but can cause the additional problem of the very tight margins caused by the low prices demanded by their buyers. For the product to be successful, it is vital there is compelling evidence the product will sell within a supermarket's stores at a price level that will allow the manufacturer to achieve a margin allowing them to survive.
Getting that evidence is not easy using qualitative research. "Focus groups are a miserable way to understand anything," as Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi has said. To obtain the necessary facts quantitative research is required. A buyer wants hard figures. This research needs to be conducted in the supermarket. A controlled store test professionally managed by a specialist market research company will get the manufacturer the results they need to prove to the buyer that their product is worth listing.