Out with the old, in with the new. The world is changing fast – which means brands and marketers need to come up with new innovations to keep up. Some tried and true methods of product development processes are no longer as sound as they once were. Instead, agile marketing approaches are filling in many critical gaps, leading to successful product launches.
Agile marketing refers to an integrated, cross-functional approach where teams can go back and forth throughout the process of developing a strategy or product based on the feedback they receive from consumers. Brands that deliver the most meaningful and impactful products actively and continually understand and collaborate with consumers and their cross-functional teams.
Here are 4 ways brands can optimize their CPG new product development process.
Tip #1: Don’t waste money testing concepts you didn’t draw from REAL inspiration
All too often, marketers and insights professionals rely on “a shot in the dark” method for determining the kind of products they should create. This is problematic for a number of reasons. For starters, researchers have consistently shown that we’re notoriously bad at putting ourselves in a consumer’s shoes. No matter how great an idea seems, there’s always a possibility it could flop when it hits the market.
A better approach is to draw from real and meaningful inspiration, typically through rich qualitative insights from consumers. When you put your consumers and their needs at the core of the product development process, you’ll be in a stronger position to identify critical market gaps – which translate to more impactful, meaningful, and successful products.
Tip #2: Don’t wait until you build a prototype to receive consumer feedback
In a traditional product development setting, you’d have to wait until your prototype was ready before receiving feedback. But from an agile marketing perspective, that is far too late in the game. If your consumers respond negatively, you’ll need to start your product development process all over again – sometimes more than once – to adjust for each of their concerns. This is not only expensive, but also incredibly time-consuming.
With consumer trends evolving so quickly, you need to stay ahead of the curve and react in the moment. Instead of an isolated approach to product development, introduce your consumers throughout each step of the process.
Mobile qualitative research platforms are an exceptionally proficient tool for communicating with customers in real-time. Many have the added benefit of consumer-anonymity and AI-driven analytics to sort through and organize ongoing feedback.
Tip #3: Don’t engage in unreliable and inefficient product testing
The best testing tools aren’t necessarily the most expensive. And there’s no guarantee that extensive studies or focus group sessions will generate the most authentic insights either.
In fact, it’s usually the opposite.While quantitative surveys provide data at scale, they don’t give you the depth of consumer insight – or the “why” behind the “what” – that is necessary to make the most informed decisions. And, traditional qualitative testing models, like focus groups, can be unreliable. Without proper moderation, uncomfortable respondents might hold back sensitive judgements or struggle to recall their past in-the-moment emotions. Plus, focus groups can be very costly to administer and difficult to schedule, depending upon the team.
Research technologies that enable you to capture insights in real time, giving consumers the anonymity and flexibility they need to provide real, honest feedback might serve you better. There are options for collecting qualitative, in-context feedback via smartphone video or consumption usage data from smart coasters from the convenience of the individuals’ homes. Artificial intelligence has also streamlined data collection and analysis, making it possible to process large swaths of qualitative and quantitative results with unparalleled speed.
Tip #4: DO empathize with your consumers
Gone are the days when you could pinpoint your target market with just a couple of different adjectives. Nowadays, agile marketing requires a much more nuanced approach. Even if you think you know your consumer, it’s critical to take a step back to adopt a broader perspective. This will allow you to understand the driving forces behind their decisions.
Say you’re going after consumers that buy sugar-free products. At first glance, this may seem like a sufficient end point. However, additional details can help you paint a much more thorough picture. Are they avoiding sugar because they’re a Type 2 Diabetic? Maybe they’re trying to lose weight, or they prefer a savory taste.
Understanding the other factors that come into play will allow you to fine-tune your product development, messaging strategy, and marketing strategies. This will then translate to intentional products that also have longevity.
In short, brands need to think more strategically and strive for ways to capture more authentic insights. Consumer empathy is a critical element of success, all the way from the early exploratory phase to late stage product development and marketing. This is the only way you’ll be able to truly understand your audience, address their pain points, desires, and needs, and deliver for them in today’s rapidly evolving and particularly competitive business environment.