Food & Beverage New Product Launch

Nielsen 12 Steps Consumer Adoption

New Product Launch in the food and beverage sector is one of the least understood strategic elements in getting your product on the shelf and then on to the consumer's plate.

Food entrepreneurs starting a food business or for those who are running a food business can spend precious marketing dollars only to find they are having difficulty getting into retailers and on to the consumer's plate or worse, staying in business.

The success rate for new product launches is really bad somewhere around 10% according to NielsenWire. Nielsen is the research giant that takes the information from the supermarket scanner register, scoops it up, cleans up the data and turns it into valuable information used by supermarkets and food and beverage brands across the US.

Nielsen came up with different New Product Launch process, 12 Key Steps to Consumer Adoption. I like "steps to..." help since food entrepreneurs need easy to execute programs to compete - I don't have to tell you how tough the food and beverage sector is in the supermarket.

I work with hundreds of food entrepreneurs and see far too many failed new product launches. The Nielsen steps are a great way for food entrepreneurs to get on the consumer's plate. This article focuses on step 1 because success depends on the effectiveness of this step:

Have a Distinct Proposition For Your Food

It takes more than a great tasting product to pitch the supermarket buyer and then get the supermarket customer to try your product and to buy it again.

That means your product must be positioned as truly different and tasting better is not enough. I outline 5 Steps to Positioning Food and Beverage Products which will help you determine if your product is really different.

Ask yourself if people REALLY want your product? It must be something that people will actually want, and you have to separate your emotional investment in your food or beverage product to really answer that question.

Today's consumer is stretched to the limit with their food budgets and affordability is a major factor in today's supermarket shopping trip. It does not matter if your product has great value... if the consumer says "I can't afford it," then you are done! The Fancy Food Show highlights far too many "me too" products. Do we really need another barbecue sauce, unsweetened tea, chocolate or another olive oil?

Sometimes Branding Can Be the Distinct Proposition

There's a reason why the "me too" products can thrive despite the many private label store brands of foods that aren't so different and maybe even cost less for the same ingredients. The answer is branding.

Build a brand that speaks to your consumer, and your image and packaging may be the distinct proposition that leads to your success. What was so different about Late July snack chips from the other chips out there? The brand thrived and ultimately was acquired. 

Tips for Helping Entrepreneurs Start a Food Business

A brand of carrot cake once contacted me for some new product launch help. So you might say who needs another carrot cake? Well, yes, but they were not communicating their difference to consumers and the supermarket buyer.

They were not just another carrot cake; they were authentic southern style carrot cake! That difference allows them to credibly pitch the supermarket buyer that the buyer does not have a product like this and therefore the supermarket has an opportunity to bring NEW... repeat NEW customers into the bakery department.

Can you see the difference between saying "we make carrot cake" and saying "we are an authentic southern style line of gluten-free and all natural cakes and cupcakes that have that homemade look and taste." Which one would you buy?

Finally, ask yourself what your product's value to the consumer AND to the supermarket buyer is? It is where you determine if your product occupies a distinct niche in the food or beverage category you are competing within.

Updated by Susie Wyshak, October 2015