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What All Brands, CEOs Must Know About Developing Great New Products
Consumer Insight Must Be Kept 'In Sight'
By Jack Gordon and Bill Vernick

Developing and introducing a new product can be quite scary, risky, demanding, even a roller-coaster ride. Often, what began as a great new product idea becomes unrecognizable when that once-great idea gets to store shelves.

Why? Basically, there are too many moving parts during the process. Brand managers and marketing leaders have to first find a great consumer insight and then create a great concept with a great positioning from the insight – what are the consumer targets saying and what truly matters to them to deliver the sale. After which, executives need to create a product that fully delivers the benefit created from the insight and finally, they must 'hit a homerun' executionally with advertising, packaging, and marketing that highlights the benefit and sells it in a believable manner.

Smart and successful marketing executives know how to juggle all these balls and still end up with a great new product that fulfills that terrific idea you started off with. The key: managing the consumer insight – in other words, keeping the insight "in sight." By finding and then keeping the original insight in focus, it becomes the guide – which is the pathway to success in the marketplace.

Here are the steps to ensure success.

Step 1 – Insight Finding and Identification.

The key to finding a big new insight is understanding consumer needs, wants, and how they view and use the category. Trying to "sell the consume" on your views is seldom successful; but listening to their language and watching their actions will point you straight to terrific new insights.

For example, Procter &Gamble's efforts in 1985 to create a bold new advertising campaign for Folgers to catapult it into market leadership began by watching consumers make coffee and by listening to their descriptions of their process of waking up in the morning. From these efforts came the insight that people actually wake up to the smell of coffee before they get to the taste And, thus was born "The best part of waking up…" The insight worked so well, it's still guiding the marketing campaign today - twenty years later. Ask yourself, what about your product or organization triggers an emotional response stronger than the commodity itself. But, successful marketing and brand executives know that they don't have to go it alone.

Once you have possible insights identified, these insights should be objectively and quantifiably tested to determine if they are truly bold, new insights. This should be done before writing concepts as there is a totally different set of questions necessary to identify the potential of an insight. A lesson: Only when the insights are determined to truly have ground breaking potential should you proceed to the concept development phase.

Step 2 – Concept Development/Screening

A truly good insight has the ability to be executed in many different ways. If you can develop only one possible concept from an insight, it is simply not an insight. Insights allow for multiple executions, so once you have identified these directions, you can develop the concept executions and screen them to find the most compelling (and unique) delivery of your insight.

Step 3 – Product Development/Quantification

Having identified the right concept, developing the product to deliver on the promises of the concept, i.e.: delivering the insight through the product performance, is key. The product must live up to the promises made in the concept or the business proposition will fail. At this stage concept fulfillment, cannibalization estimates, and volumetrics can tell you if you have been successful.

Again, Folgers provides an excellent example of a product working to fulfill the original insight. P&G developed a special "aroma-roast" process that guaranteed they were getting as much great coffee aroma from each bean as humanly possible. And, they've continued to use the original insight, when recently the company came out with a special "aroma-seal" can that keeps the beans fresh and aromatic – remaining consistent with the brand promise throughout innovation.

Step 4 – Advertising Development/Screening

This stage is too late for the advertising or public relations agency to get involved and start re-interpreting the products benefits. Good marketing communications should "sell" the insight. If the product's unique selling proposition is not conveyed in the advertising, it is a waste of money. By engaging the agency in the development process they can aid in guiding the project and will be in a much better position to write copy that is true to the insight. Working closely at the conceptual stage with the brand research and brand marketing agency is critical as advertising is not the place for trial and error.

Screening multiple campaigns to objectively find the one that does this best is key. Not only should the winning campaign be motivating and unique, it should convey new information, communicate the features and benefits that are most important (that is the ones that consumers have already indicated they bought into), and it should generate the emotional reaction necessary to get consumers to bond with the brand. Each element is part of a successful advertising testing effort.

Step 5 – Packaging Development/Screening

For many brands packaging is the primary, if not the only, advertising the consumer will see. Packaging development needs to clearly focus on the insight and sell the benefits that come out of this. Like advertising, your packaging agency must understand the insight work and not try to re-interpret the direction. And, like advertising, multiple packaging options should be considered to find the direction that is most motivating, unique, does the best job of communicating benefits, and leaves consumers with the favorable emotional reaction you are looking to achieve. A brand packaging firm should be brought into the equation early in the process before final concepts are designed, allowing the packaging firm to offer best practice advice on 'how' to execute the idea efficiently, effectively and at the best cost. The best idea, unable to be executed or executed at tremendous cost, is not a bargain.

Step 6 - Introductory Marketing/Promotion Materials

These too should be true to the insight. Having focused on this winning consumer insight so long, why risk it by not telling consumers it is now in their power to buy it. Introduce the product as the breakthrough it is, not just another line extension.

Remember, the consumer should always drive your efforts, and when you get off track and the consumers tell you, you must listen. This is the reason you keep checking with them, to make sure you have stayed true to their original guidance. Listen -- this is the single best way to improve your new product, advertising, and packaging efforts.

The solution to improving your efforts in creating and marketing new products is to have an "Insight Manager" who will keep all these development efforts focused on the insight and its benefits and not let them go astray. Sometimes, depending on your corporate culture, this can be an internal manager, and sometimes it is best accomplished by having an outside expert ride herd on the project to ensure the original insight doesn't get hijacked along the way.

About AcuPOLL

AcuPOLL® Research and the Brandmine™ division of MRA Services have teamed up to create Insight Manager – a painless and efficient process that helps clients learn how to create, identify and manage great insights through their new product or advertising development efforts. According to Gordon, Insight
Manager is a process that helps companies uncover "terrific consumer insight, ensure that it is indeed terrific, and most importantly, maintain the magic of that insight throughout product development, marketing strategy and advertising, and package development." In addition, the process can be taught to any marketing organization.

Along with Gordon, BrandMine consultants Bob Sukys and Bill Vernick developed Insight Manager after identifying the issues and finding instances where the original consumer insight was consistently upheld throughout development and delivery of the products and strategies. The group pointed to the Folgers'
"Best Part Of Wakin' Up" campaign, as one example that clearly indicates that when you remain true to a consumer insight you can reap years of rewards.

With world headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, AcuPOLL Research, Inc., is a global brand building research agency that uses a patented system to provide companies with clear business recommendations based on a thorough analysis of customized data. AcuPOLL provides the fastest, most predictive, and most accurate research methodology. Over the past ten years, AcuPOLL has quantitatively tested over 30,000 new product ideas and ads, giving it the largest, most current database in the marketing industry. AcuPOLL has predicted the success of new products, services, mail order catalog items, retail concepts, advertising, promotions, and business services. AcuPOLL is an internationally recognized company with offices in the United States, Asia, Europe, Mexico, and South America. More information can be accessed at www.acupoll.com or by calling 513.943.0020.

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