The initial key element is to know the subject and the subject area – assume nothing!
You need to know your products use and why – this helps you to see what markets the product will reach and what the market cross over is. This will help when marketing the product.
Let’s say you have a new snack bar that is low sugar, high protein and suitable for vegans.
Take a step back and look at all the elements in the product:
- What is the market for snack bars?
- What is the market for low sugar, high protein, and veganism?
- What element(s) are key areas that are moving that market forward?
Start with a broad overview of the product’s key elements, and then you can look at each spear of the market and then bring them together to build a body of evidence. This will help identify the key consumer demographic.
Where does it fit with other trends?
This includes ideals, values, ethos of the product and brand. The areas identified can be linked to policy, consumer aspirations, trending causes- these further enhance the appeal.
At this point, it is worth remembering that more isn’t always better. The product doesn’t need to meet every market or emerging trend.
For example, which health trends should they target? Too many associations will water the product down and lessen the appeal. But by identifying the most lucrative areas that the product can work, you will identify who would be likely to purchase it, and more importantly, repeat purchase.
Read as much as possible, and discard content that is either sponsored or cannot provide credible reasoning, to support the predictions.
Identify the real challenges in the market – the products designed for healthy ageing are a great example, as no one wants to identify as being ‘old’, yet it’s the largest growing consumer demographic.
You need to look for research that presents various viewpoints and seeks out solutions to the challenges and opportunities.
Use market reports with scientific literature
With our new vegan snack bar in mind; understand the demographic. What health trends are they seeking and who would want to see ingredients or extracts with particular properties? Then it is essential to read the academic literature to support its use.
Look at what product or similar products are already commercially available to the ones that you have in mind to launch or develop. This will provide some background to the science behind the use of a product giving it weight and reasoning to the ‘whys’ that a similar product would be used, and its potential successes.
If or when you are not confident to interpret the science, find an expert in the field and ask them to explain; if the topic cannot be explained simply, it is either too complex to make it to the mainstream market or is still not fully understood and requires more research.
It is essential to seek out what research is going on behind the scenes – a good example is the growing digestive health and gut microbiome markets. This was identified as being a macro health trend that has changed all health-related products and their positioning ever since.
Global research studies provided the evidence of many previous paradigms surrounding topics such as the gut-brain axis, the use of pre and probiotics, and even faecal transplants. This growing research has aided in forming a great body of evidence to back up the assumptions that the interaction of the gut bacteria has a greater influence on health than ever imaged previously, giving credit that certain foods, supplements, environmental devices, or stress-relieving products affect the diversity of the microbiotas colonise modulating the individual’s disease risk, mental health and overall health status. All aiding the market growth.
As mentioned, before it is highly recommended to seek others with expertise within the products market space, topic area and demographic appeal. This evidence can be gathered and used objectively to support the market projections or make a projection before credible market research is available. Ask the expert:
- What are their experiences?
- What have they seen over the years within the industry?
- And have they seen such product developed before?
Some products have been launched and not seen success at first which can be due to the being to early or ‘before its time’ and therefore not resonating with the consumer at that time. Hence why it is key to select the properties if the products that are most appealing and understood.
What’s on the market already and are their gaps? Credibility of a product or ingredient can be built by looking at the associated trends, products and market growth.
For example, if you wanted to develop a plant-based protein product, look at the reasons why consumers are purchasing a plant protein, over an animal protein.
- What the plant-based protein options are?
- What growth has been seen in those main sources?
- How do they differ nutritionally, by taste, by appearance and by functionality?
- What is the processing capacity,
- and is the supply chain is robust?
These answers will aid the products commercial success. Further alternatives can always be developed as the processing capabilities develop.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to work backwards and look at the macro trends and their market, then micro trends and their markets.
Various market valuations will suggest predicted high growth, but it doesn’t always mean that it’s a great time to also join the market – ask yourself, is the market saturated, what does your product bring to the category, and have you identified a clear gap? What is the USP?
Linking the markets up is always useful to gain a bigger picture. Interpreting some (or most!!) market research on new or emerging markets is a bit of a nightmare as it is often based on assumptions from similar markets. Here the cross-ref of academic papers and looking at what is in the product and its intended outcome (in food/beverage products) is really useful to see how it is going to be appealing and who it is going to appeal to.
If you already have a product that is successful on the market and you intend to launch additional new product lines it is highly recommended to use your existing consumer base to seek out, what they want, what they need, or what are prepared to pay for.
A clear strategy is required to ensure the product meets the demands of the target consumer.
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