Remember the F-Words to Capture Consumers’ Affection

Last summer, when Jane Janovsky of South Hadley, Massachusetts and a friend found themselves with buckets of blueberries, they made blueberry lemonade. When that didn’t empty the buckets, the pair took to their kettles and began turning out blueberry preserves that literally became the talk of the town when a local diner added the sweet treat to its menu. Jane saw the potential for a new business and she ran with it. Today Just Jane’s Artisan Preserves turns out some seventeen varieties of preserves, jams and spread.

Jane’s entrepreneurial vision encompasses three key principals for a successful new-product introduction. Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) recently analyzed 190,000 CPGs introduced in 2013 to identify the clear winners, and found that each had its origins in innovation inspired by “understanding the deep context of consumer attitudes, usage and shopping habits.”
Across the broad spectrum of CPG categories—food and beverage, household health and beauty, and convenience items—three factors emerged as key. In order to inspire early adopters to become repeat customers and spread the word to family and friends, new products must meet critical expectations that using them gives consumers results that are fun, fast, and functional.

Fun Factor
Jane’s preserves have immediate appeal by attracting consumers with their whimsical music-themed names—Rockin’ Raspberry, Bubbly Be-Bop Strawberry, and Harvest Harmony, for example.
The fun factor also applies to mass-marketed comestibles such as yogurt. Says Dr. Mehmood Khan, who oversees PepsiCo’s global research and development, in the New York Times, yogurt is an “’I gotta have it because it’s good for me’ kind of a product. The ‘wanna have it’ was missing.”
Müller Yogurt (Pepsico/Quaker Oats), introduced to the US market in 2012-2013, made its mark—nearly $100 million in first-year sales—by combining the traditional “function” of yogurt as a healthful “fast” food with a concept of “fun.” Its quirky European spelling is the first element of fun, and Müller’s innovative compartmentalized packaging gives consumers of choice of whimsical mix-ins such as “crispy crunch” and “choco balls.”
Just Jane’s and Müller Yogurt succeed by adding excitement and fun to everyday nutrition, an addition product innovators would do well to keep in mind.

Speed It Up Faster
According to IRI, consumers embrace household products that save time and money with innovative packaging: “a strong majority of 2013 home care innovation winners, 82%, make it easier to get household chores done. Fifty-five percent of winners make home care more convenient.”
Far and away the most successful trend in this category has been the introduction of pre-measured cleansing agents for the laundry and the kitchen. Tide, ARM & HAMMER, and Purex all offered a version of a toss-in dose of detergent that eliminates the need for measuring and the mess of dripping laundry liquid. The same pod technology has taken the dishwasher detergent market by storm.
Just like with Müller yogurt’s mix-in packing, encapsulating detergents into a toss-able ball adds an element of fun even as it saves the consumer a little bit of precious time. This new technology also racked up some $325 million in sales for Proctor & Gamble’s Tide Pods.
New products that reduce the time and effort consumers devote to household chores can mean big revenue.

Last year’s successful products kept on their promises to consumers. In the huge (14%) market segment of health and beauty products, consumers look for items that deliver excellent results. One such family of products, Proctor & Gamble’s Pantene Age Defy hair treatments, had Good Housekeeping testers singing its praises: “We were certainly impressed – Age Defy shampoo/conditioner or shampoo/deep conditioner gave some of the best results we’ve ever seen.”

Consumers agree. Reports Proctor & Gamble: “Pantene Expert Collection Age Defy Advanced Thickening Treatment launched in North America in January 2013 at a premium price and is already the #1 treatment in the Salon Inspired segment of the Hair Care category.”
Salon-quality results from at-home beauty products is a high bar, but one that new products in this market must meet in order to have breakout sales.

Frugal Is In—Cheap Is Out
IRI concludes that “in 2014 and beyond, consumers will take a very deliberate approach to grocery shopping.” Innovators—and entrepreneurs—will “have significant opportunity in helping consumers live well for less.”
Careful consumers want to know that their dollars are well spent. At $4 to $5 for a four-ounce jar, Just Jane’s preserves are not cheap, but represent good value for those who want the great taste of hand-crafted, locally sourced and all-natural products. For aspiring entrepreneurs, they exemplify the value of the four F’s of product development: fun, fast, functional, and frugal.

Incorporate the F-words in your product planning—you’ll swear you be glad you did.