Ok, maybe not the factory managers, but new product development teams certainly do, and customers and consumers definitely do. Innovation is a great way to differentiate yourselves from the competition.
The question is…. how do you know what to launch, and how do you monitor success throughout the life of a product?
If you've ever been involved in developing food, you'll be well aware of the mountains of paperwork, spreadsheets and presentations that have become a necessary part of the product development process. It's often difficult to keep an eye on everything, and when it comes to redeveloping an existing product, or developing a new one, the paper files and spreadsheet trackers come out, and so begins the inevitable task of piecing everything together, trying to understand what’s been happening for the past year, and trying to give your new product the best possible chance of success.
In November, I attended the Food and Drink Quality and Safety Summit in Birmingham. Not only was it great to see so many industry experts, but it was also nice to be back in the (general) area that I grew up in. One of the key themes, for the talks that I attended, was that of product innovation in product development. This always appeals to me, as I was a Product Development Manager before I joined S4RB. I love the fast-moving categories, such as chilled ready meals, and party food. You only have to look at the wonderful creations that appear on Christmas adverts to see the amazing innovations across the marketplace. The competition is fierce, and in order to succeed, you need to focus on developing competitive products, and not wading through mountains of paperwork, trying to find the answer to any number of questions. You want all the information in one place, to allow you to make constructive decisions.
In the UK, the scale of private brands is immense. They span each category, and play a vital role in satisfying customer-demand, and driving category growth. Whether that's upgrading an existing product, or launching a really innovative product that completely pushes the boundaries.
One of the biggest challenges is the vast amount of information that's required to effectively develop products, and to monitor performance throughout the life of the product. There's the obvious ones, like product benchmarking tests, sales figures and complaints but what about the less obvious ones, such as online reviews, depot quality checks, and the sensory and insight panels that trusted partners have conducted? There are so many sources of data and unless you have the time to filter through all of them, it's a really difficult and time-consuming job to pull everything together.
Everything comes in a different format, too. Spreadsheets, PDFs, text documents and photographs might be saved centrally, but there's a good chance that some are still with suppliers, some are on email, and some will need chasing. Suddenly, trying to find everything quickly and easily becomes a time-consuming task, and that's just for one product. When you consider the time taken for a whole range of products (remember the vast number of Christmas products that you've just written into the product development brief?), the task of finding and collating information becomes an onerous one.
Imagine a world where sales, complaints, reviews and product tests all come together in one place. With S4RB’s Affinity™ platform, all of this is possible. We take the data feeds that are important to you, and collate them into One View. We make it possible to view individual product performance for sales, feedback, quality and consistency - a ‘product scorecard’ if you will –or to look at the performance of a whole range, or category. Now, all of the data that used to take hours or days to collate can be accessed quickly and easily, allowing the time saved to be used to 'do the doing', reviewing what requires focus (and what doesn't) and, ultimately, getting one step closer to being ahead of the competitors, whether that's redeveloping an existing line, or launching the most innovative product the customer has ever seen. Remember the Christmas products? Yours might just be appearing on next year's TV advert (but no promises!).
Further reading: What do we mean by private brand product performance?