& Views

FMCG launches and innovation

Fact: Not all innovation is launched to last forever!

Amy Burgress, Associate Director

forthcoming report by Nielsen highlights that three out of four FMCG product launches fail, a figure that doesn’t surprise us.

In any category, FMCG or otherwise, new launches are what turn heads, get people excited and wanting to try new things. Apple is a very good example of this, only yesterday launching a Smart Watch and Bigger iPhone.

Some innovation is topical and of the moment (cue the Royal baby), some responds to a passing fad that delivers high impact in a short period of time and some is based on deep consumer / shopper insight and filling a gap in the market. This is the kind that will go the distance and often described as ‘Big Bets’ by manufacturers requiring total ‘organisational togetherness’ and a strategic launch comms plan.

Recent FMCG examples include Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, the No.1 Spirit launch of the last five years, Strongbow Dark Fruit, the No.1 Alcohol launch of 2013, and Belvita Breakfast Biscuits, which have created a new UK consumption occasion whilst reinvigorating sales of healthier biscuits.

Innovation may also serve a tactical purpose blocking competitor space or shelf or back bar, enhancing exposure in store or a place within cross-brand promotional offers.

Whatever the reason for a piece of innovation and regardless of its success, the key factor is surely that it doesn’t dilute or contradict a brand’s essence if its an extension or undermine a manufacturer’s credibility if it fails.

We’ve had experience in managing the comms around failed NPD launches and every company prefers a different approach. One thing is for sure, trade journalists are realists, they appreciate that not all NPD will last and respect a down to earth, honest response from a Marketing or Sales Director. The door will then be open for future communications for that next ‘Big Bet’!