According to a recent Nielsen research, over 80% of new consumer product launches in the fast-moving consumer goods segment fail. According to another Nielsen article, 70% of these launches are by established brands. With so many failures out there, you’d expect that brands would know better by now how to deliver innovation and what would be essential new product launch steps. Established brands are supposed to do well on execution as they have had a great practice with numerous previous innovations and new products launched.
This leads us to the conclusion that the challenge does not lie in the execution-related parts but more so in the ideation part. This makes sense as the idea for the new product is the basis for everything else…
The Nielsen research by the way names the top three reasons for innovation failures, after analyzing thousands of product launches. One is the ideation, too, and the others are operational in nature:
- Neglecting to address a broad consumer need
- Failing to provide a good product experience
- Providing insufficient marketing support
Why ideation? Why now?
Inventing a new product is difficult. It’s basically magic – creating something out of nothing.
How do you come up with the idea? How do you identify the needs and wants that are trending for your target audience? Obviously, there is art and science here. While the art part is difficult to replicate and scale, the science one should be easier.
Luckily, at current times online sales (eCommerce and Direct to Consumer – D2C) are booming. Traditionally, brands focused on traditional retail (In 2019 online sales were 16% of the US retail sales). Now online sales are predicted to be over 30% of US retail sales. With the focus on online sales communications with consumers become digital, and digital communication can be analyzed (Unlike traditional methods – surveys, interviews, etc. which are harder to capture at scale). Imagine being able to analyze 30% of the buyers within an industry…
When you think about it, eCommerce is driving a whole new communication channel that can be leveraged for innovation and new product ideation. Consumers communicate online via a whole range of methods, leaving lots of analyzable quality data out there:
- Online reviews
- Questions and answers
- Feedback forms
If you can funnel these sources into your ideation and innovation process, you can have a repeatable way to come up with innovative candidates for new products.
Why online opinions matter more to new product launches
When looking to turn innovation from art to science you need several core abilities:
- As many credible consumer opinions as possible
- From buyers who buy in your target channels
- Not limited just to existing customers, but the wider industry
- Not limited to specific questions/topics, as this is about brainstorming
- A channel for quick feedback, nothing that will require months and months
Online opinions are actually perfect for this:
- Online sales are growing and thus representing the future of retail. Which is why 91% of people read and rely on online reviews and 84% trust them as much as they would a personal recommendation
- Online reviews are typically made by verified customers and are pretty detailed in nature (Store specific, product feedback, purchase feedback)
- This is an unbiased feedback channel (no one is asking questions or leading the conversation
- This is a quick feedback channel (Unhappy consumers will report back quickly online as it’s easy, as well as happy ones)
- It’s more scalable than any other method – at the same time you can potentially get feedback from 50 survey responders for a limited amount of questions you can analyze 50,000 opinions from your target audience
- It’s not limited to your customers only, as this is all public information, which means you can listen in to the entire industry
- Consumers actually talk about “wish lists” in the context of products purchased. It’s very common to see comments like “I wish this running shoe was lighter…” or “I’d wish these earphones had longer battery life to help me work from home”
The rush to eCommerce/D2C makes online commerce a key communication and feedback channel with consumers. This is a great opportunity to fix one of the biggest issues in new product launches – how to make it successful. This new communication channel that is gaining more momentum is actually offering innovation and ideation teams a wealth of information about their needs, wants, and trends. To make it even more perfect, this feedback is not just by your current buyers but is available across your industry.
This is what can turn ideation and innovation from art to science, turning successful new product launches into a scalable, repeatable process.
We encourage you to focus on eCommerce opinion analytics as a key step in your ideation process
Simone Somekh is a New York-based writer and editor who specializes in marketing and communications for B2B SaaS companies. He teaches Communications at Touro College and he is the author of an award-winning novel published in four languages.