ZappiStore took a trip to The Happenstance in East London with the folks at MMR – a stone’s throw from St Paul’s Cathedral – to discuss product packaging in the retail space. Representatives from businesses of all shapes and sizes fought an ugly statistic: 3 in 4 FMCG product launches fail within a year (Marketing Week, 2014). Together we explored what it takes to be the lucky 1.

Something fishy is going on

First, Matt Lintern, MMR’s Global CEO, likened idea generation to the difference between a fishing rod and casting a net. To develop a new product, we might try everything and anything or pin our hopes on one special idea.

Both approaches are valid, but as marketing budgets expand and research budgets dwindle, creating winning products in crowded markets feels like a frenetic battle against the odds.

Matt assured the room that consumer-led research is vital in order to predict if innovations are likely to be successful in-market. He outlined that the most engaging and effective surveys are those that enable us to capture responses as they arise – ‘in the moment’ – using virtual reality, as shown at ESOMAR 2016 to spy on consumers in the kitchen.


Is VR a window into bright new ideas?

Purpose and meaning

Claire Phoenix from FoodBev showed a series of uniquely packaged products, encapsulating a ‘clean eating’ health craze. Crunchy insects and dark chocolate – how on Earth are these marketed as beautifying or ethical snacks? The answer is by way of ingenious designs and cunning copy. Insects are full of muscle-building protein and 100% cocoa signals the healthiest chocolate of all.

Healthy ingredients aren’t the only way to make consumers feel better about themselves; ethically-concious companies like Feel Good Bakery give a sandwich to the needy each time you buy one for yourself. Consumers are willing to pay more for ethical options; the disappearance of Tesco’s caged hen eggs is proof enough that they’re capable of dictating these sorts of considerations with a wave of their wallet.

James Jesty reinforced this point; the most powerful ideas come from those who understand where their products fit and which problems they can solve. Packaging helps establish particular brand connotations; chances are, if you’ve wrapped an ethically-farmed snack in tough, unrecyclable plastic, you’ve not taken an iterative user-centric approach.

Edible Spoons

Edible spoons: can they save the planet from plastic sporks?

Slow and steady wins the race

Karen Poole shared her experiences launching new products with more patience than haste.

Children’s bath-time products occupy a deeply competitive landscape, but Karen managed to convert consumers to Paddy’s Bathroom by tailoring the products for parents. Her team included skin-friendly natural ingredients and designed packaging with an easier bath-time in mind (squashy packets and upside-down bottles).

Karen refused to base business decisions on whether or not a design is ‘liked’. She tested whether consumer needs were met and, oftentimes, the packaging Karen least-liked was the most desirable to parents. Generally positive feedback, she says, does not necessarily equate to the solutions that influence buying decisions.

Paddy's Bathroom

Paddy’s Bathroom, taking the stress out of bath-time

Iterative, collaborative, innovative

Our own Paul Albert agreed with Karen’s sentiment. He explained that the speed and cost at which insights can now be derived renders the usual excuses – no time or money – futile, if not damaging. The costliest decisions are built on guesswork and hunches. Using automation, everything that’s previously gone untested due to a lack of resource, energy, or budget, can now be put to consumers, ranked, rated, loved and hated – all before lunchtime.

Strong branding is more than fancy logos and funky boxes. Rather, it is a meaningful connection between a product and its purpose. Iterative, consumer-led research is what’s needed to bridge that gap effectively.

A James Hodges

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A James Hodges

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