Three critical questions to unlock innovation success in 2023


Three critical questions to unlock innovation success in 2023

NIQ Managing Director of BASES, Ramon Melgarejo, weighs in on the keys to successful innovation in the new year.

Cutting through complexity

Chances are, on some January 1 or another, we’ve all made a New Year’s resolution to drop a few pounds. We purchased a fitness tracker, meticulously researched macro combinations and jumped on board with the latest fitness trend. We probably gave it our all those first few weeks. But then, like most New Year’s resolutioners—especially when it comes to dieting—we probably abandoned those well-intentioned plans come February.

There are, of course, any number of reasons why people fail to achieve their goals. But it usually stems from prioritizing process over outcome. In the case of weight loss, we become so preoccupied by gadgets, dieting rules and exercise dogma that we lose focus on why we want to lose weight in the first place. Is it to lower cholesterol? Fit better in our clothes? Does meeting those goals necessitate a complicated diet and exercise regime, or can we simply eat a little less and move a little more?

“There are, of course, any number of reasons why people fail to achieve their goals. But it usually stems from prioritizing process over outcome.”

The high failure rate of New Year’s resolutions shares an unfortunate parallel with new product development. Despite the availability of research platforms and technology promising to optimize everything from concept development to activation, our data shows that many new product launches see a decline in sales by the end of Year 1.

Why do innovations decline?

In many ways, innovators share the same struggle as dieters. By focusing exclusively on which research tool, methodology or business process is the fastest and shiniest, we overlook a simple truth: The most optimal asset is the one that helps us achieve our desired outcome.

Have we clearly articulated what that is?

Building a winning strategy for innovation

The past few years have brought business and economic uncertainties, and 2023 has potential for the same, placing leaders under tremendous pressure to maximize resources and efficiencies while achieving results. But even the best processes and tools will not translate to success without first having the fundamentals in place.

Whatever your innovation priorities, I recommend reflecting on the following three questions to help you build a winning strategy in 2023.

Do I have a value proposition to build a business case around?

Our research shows that innovations that satisfy a core consumer need or desire are two to three times more successful in driving consumers to try the product and enduring on shelf.

What core need do your products meet?

To build your value proposition, you need a clear understanding of your category, the underlying trends, along with consumer and market drivers. Ask yourself:

  • Why do consumers participate in this category?
  • Does it fulfill a basic need or help with a job to be done?
  • What other trends does your initiative tap into (e.g., health & well-being, convenience, sustainability), and are they growing?

Think about the present economic, technological and demographic trends that affect these drivers. How is your brand uniquely positioned to capture these opportunities in its innovation pipeline? Whether developing a new concept or launching a “me too” innovation, does it resolve a fundamental consumer struggle—big or small?

Only when your value proposition is clear can you begin to build a business case that delivers on consumer needs and your internal priorities. When I meet with clients, my first order of business is to ensure everyone is aligned on their goals: Are you trying to hold the shelf? Extend margins? Stave off competition? Determine your ideal set of outcomes, as well as an acceptable set of tradeoffs. From here, you can determine the optimal strategy for achieving them. More on this in a moment.

Does my product deliver on consumer expectations?

First impressions matter. When a new product provides exactly the right size, packaging or consumption experience consumers have been looking for, it can command a premium and achieve a high repeat rate, driving even more growth. Our research has found that strong products which resonate with consumers can drastically increase Year 1 revenue, up to 30%.

And let’s not forget the immediacy and impact of online reviews and social media: When assessing drivers of online trial, our survey showed that product reviews and influencer opinions are twice as important for those who shop online.

The key to ensuring that your product delivers is putting the consumer at the center of your development process.

This sounds simple enough, but in a BASES survey on the state of innovation, 77% of CPG manufacturers admitted that they spend less time on key steps like this when under pressure to move faster. When you find yourself cutting corners—prioritizing process over outcome—it is time to step back and re-evaluate.

Does my go-to-market plan adequately connect my product to consumers?

There are some universal essentials that comprise a strong go-to-market plan. Given the speed with which consumers make purchasing decisions, a product needs to be both mentally and physically available. Begin with messaging that creates or strengthens brand associations and compels behavior, while ensuring your distribution strategy has maximum reach.

Our research shows that 71% of shoppers have purchased a new product based on its packaging. Ensure your product is not only intuitively findable in store but also that it stands out through strong design. For eCommerce, verify that your search terms align with consumer expectations, and aim for a robust launch to drive top search results placement.

Beyond these best practices, however, the key to a successful go-to-market plan is optimizing your delivery strategy against both your value proposition and your business priorities. Not every innovation will be a blockbuster with mass appeal.

For example, your success may lie in targeting a very specific audience, thus necessitating a slimmer yet more strategic distribution strategy. Or, you may need to balance resource allocation for product availability with that for promotion and growth. There is no single blueprint for go-to-market success, which is why building your strategy around a clear value proposition and business case is so essential.

The best time to shake things up

My New Year’s resolution for BASES is to drive better outcomes for our clients. This means ensuring the balance between process and outcomes, and delivering robust, repeatable results that ensure our clients make the right decision, every time.

As we prepare to develop and launch new capabilities in service of this goal, we’re heeding our own advice and centering these same three questions across our business practices.

There has never been a better time to unlock new efficiencies by shaking up processes that might be limiting your potential. By focusing on the fundamentals, you’ll find your efforts more focused, efficient and successful, resulting in a happier new year for all.

Innovate to win

Read the latest BASES thought leadership, sign up for one of our upcoming Masterclasses and learn how #BoldInnovatorsWin by visiting our Innovation hub, where we’ll be sharing new content monthly.