When innovation fails: next steps for marketeers
19 september 2023 
in News

When innovation fails: next steps for marketeers

I still remember the excitement of seeing a product, which I (partly) developed, hit the store shelves. It's a wow feeling! But I also recall the disappointment when a product didn't perform as expected.

During my career as a marketer at A-brand manufacturers, I witnessed dozens of innovations, and unfortunately, the majority (about 80%) didn't succeed after their introduction. It's a significant waste, not just in terms of money and time, but also from a sustainability perspective.

Then came the moment of accountability to management, and the question often remained unanswered: "Why isn't the innovation performing as expected? Is it the price, taste, packaging, or is the concept not distinctive enough?"

Throughout my career, numerous of these questions went unanswered, at least without validated answers. Slowly, the failed innovation would fade into the background. After all, as a marketer, you have to move forward because there are plenty of other innovation projects in the pipeline.

What do you do when an innovation fails?

When innovation fails, you have two options:

  1. You keep guessing about the reasons and move on to the next project.
  2. You investigate the reasons and work on improving your concept.

If you choose option 1, it won't be long before your concept disappears from the shelves. Nowadays, you only have a few months to prove its viability. You might also end up making the same mistakes in the next innovation project.

If you opt for option 2, you increase the chances that your concept becomes a 'stayer.' A 'post-launch evaluation' provides insights that can help you enhance your existing concept. It also allows you to learn from past mistakes so you don't repeat them.

Post-launch evaluation is still not widely adopted in many FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) companies. Unlike other industries such as tech and pharma where it is an essential part of the innovation process.

Example: A-brand vs. private label

I've noticed that more and more FMCG manufacturers are embracing the approach of post-launch testing, especially in today's environment where many premium brand products risk losing market share to private label products.

A post-launch test is an effective way to gauge and find out, "Is my product still the best in the market?" This helps you identify the adjustments needed to strengthen your product's position, especially compared to private labels.

Case study

Recently, we assisted an A-brand in identifying improvement opportunities for one of their existing concepts. We conducted a post-launch evaluation at Bamboo Brands, which involved qualitative research and conversations with consumers (100% category buyers). Shoppers were also given a product sample to test at home, followed by a telephone interview with our colleagues.

The result: insights into the reasons behind the poor performance and concrete suggestions for the future. Speed was crucial in this case because the product was at risk of losing its place on the shelf.

Making a difference as a marketer

If you want to make an impact as a marketer, consider making room for evaluation after the product has been launched. Embrace the challenge of discovering improvement opportunities for the future. This not only makes innovation better, faster, and more sustainable but also a lot more enjoyable!

Let's have a conversation

Are you interested in learning how to implement post-launch testing in your organization? Feel free to contact us. Here you can read more about the post-launch evaluator from Bamboo Brands.

About the author
Founder & Managing Director Bamboo Brands B.V.
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