New Products Fail to Make Impression

Discussion
Nov 20, 2008

By George
Anderson

Maybe
it should have been called the
“Most Forgettable New Product Launch Survey” instead of the
“Most Memorable”? According to new research conducted by Schneider
Associates, Mintel International and Information Resources, 69 percent of
consumers surveyed could not name a single new product launched this year.

The
new product remembered most often was the Nintendo Wii Fit, which was mentioned
by 22 percent in an aided recall question.

According
to the study’s sponsors, consumers had a lot on their minds this year and
perhaps that could explain why so few new products were top of mind.

Lynn
Dornblaser, director of trend insight at Mintel, said it has been “a
year of distractions, with the average American’s attention pulled in many
different directions simultaneously. The fervent presidential campaigns
and election genuinely excited many voters. But even more, we saw people
deeply impacted by the financial crisis. From higher food prices to unemployment
to housing scares, economic struggles seriously affected the way many people
lived this year.”

Char
Partelow, senior vice president, panel consulting group at IRI, added, “Because
many people can only afford the basics, they’re sticking to what they know,
products and services that bring them comfort. We found that ‘a trusted
brand name’ ranked as the number one quality respondents looked for when
buying new products. Many Americans are simply less interested in ‘risking
it’ on a new product.”

The
top new items recalled by consumers were:

  1. Nintendo Wii Fit – 22
    percent recall
  2. iPod Touch – 16
    percent
  3. Bud Light Lime – 15
    percent
  4. McDonald’s Southern Style
    Chicken Biscuit
    & Sandwich – 14 percent
  5. Kraft Mac & Cheese
    Crackers – 13 percent
  6. KY Yours + Mine Couples
    Lubricant – 12 percent
  7. Gatorade G2, Yoplait
    Fiber One – (Tie) 11 percent
  8. MacBook
    Air, Rock Band, Burger King Apple Fries, Neosporin Neo To Go!, Kraft
    Bagel-fuls –
    (Tie) eight percent

Discussion Questions:
What is your take on the low recall numbers for new products in the “Memorable
Products” survey? Is this year’s crop of new items less compelling
than previous years? What do you make of the number of line extensions
in the list?

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14 Comments on "New Products Fail to Make Impression"


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Mel Kleiman
Guest
13 years 6 months ago

What new products? So much of what is out there is either a brand extension or just a copy of someone else. Unless you happen to hit a niche with something needed or really different no one is going to notice you in today’s cluttered world. How about the fact that this year, the market was introduced to more than 135 new beers? If you are not a beer elitist, do you even care? Interesting to note that one of the most mentioned products was a brand extension from KY. How does that make the top 10 list?

Dick Seesel
Guest
13 years 6 months ago

Maybe the “noise” of economic worries and the Presidential election prevented new products from resonating with consumers this year. But you can make a case that the lack of product innovation this year has helped the consumer slowdown, because there are few “have to buy” products on the list. (Maybe Bud Light Lime, after yesterday’s day on Wall Street.) And when you take off food and HBA intros, there’s a real absence of general merchandise categories–whether in apparel, electronics, housewares, or other businesses. Uninspiring content is at least partially at fault for this year’s slump at retail, regardless of all the other macroeconomic reasons.

Doron Levy
Guest
Doron Levy
13 years 6 months ago

This report gives ammunition to the ‘consumers are distracted’ argument. What we can take away from this is that we need to optimize the marketing push when it comes to launches. Let’s make the customer feel good about themselves and the products we want them to buy.

Max Goldberg
Guest
13 years 6 months ago

Most of the products listed are “more of the same.” Is it any wonder that consumers cannot recall them? Brand managers and their companies are all too willing to invest in line extensions, rather then genuine innovation.

In survey after survey, consumers have indicated that there are too many choices in most product categories in grocery stores. How many line extensions of toothpaste do consumers need? Too many choices slow down the shopping process and confuse consumers.

Companies need to place more emphasis on real innovation.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
13 years 6 months ago

Marketers probably underestimated the devastating impact of this economy on consumers. Americans who have seen their life savings halved in recent months are now treated to daily parades of overpaid executives in custom-made suits, asking for new handouts from citizens who are completely tapped out.

New products that are being introduced are probably worthy additions to store shelves…but they’re not going to make much of an impression on Americans who are avoiding shopping altogether.

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
13 years 6 months ago

When product companies economize–which most or all are doing–Research & Development budgets are among the first to be cut. Marketing budget cuts usually follow closely. Not exactly conducive for new product introductions. Naturally, any products planned for introduction this year were actually developed last year or earlier, when companies were more flush. I’m betting that there are many finished and near-finished new products languishing in storage somewhere until the economic climate improves.

Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
13 years 6 months ago

To the degree that consumer spending is an important contributor to the economy, then a factor in the economic downturn would be the lack of new product innovation, not just over the last year but perhaps the last five years.

Take the women’s market. There hasn’t been a key fashion trend or item in that time to drive customers into the stores and deliver that plus sale. The same is true in electronics. There’s been nothing new and compelling of any significance to drive customers into the stores.

And it’s not just new products. There have been few retailers breaking new ground and leading the way. Instead, the story of retailing during this period has been the maturation and consolidation of existing retail formats and business models, rather than the emergence of anything new.

Jonathan Marek
Guest
13 years 6 months ago

I agree that most of those are merely variations on already existing products. I’d have named the iPhone 3G myself–also just a variation on an existing product. Same with the upcoming Blackberry Storm.

Perhaps the true new product of the year ought to be the upcoming 40-year amortizing 3% loan that half of America is going to take out if that plan goes forward!

Tim Henderson
Guest
Tim Henderson
13 years 6 months ago

Interesting. I hadn’t thought about it until this discussion item, but I’m also hard-pressed to name more than a handful of new products. Like the respondents, the economy and election were top of my mind, and the weekly pantry refill still finds me relying on old standbys–and occasionally trading down to lower-cost brands that have been around for some time.

Seems perfectly logical that tech and food/beverage items dominate the top 10. Without having done further reading about the survey, however, my question is, why do respondents remember the products? Because of marketing repetition, because they bought/liked the product, or because they bought/didn’t like the product. Recall is one thing; being a regular buyer is a much different story.

Given the economy and changed shopping behaviors, we probably won’t see many new and innovative products in 09, but more of the line extensions that conveniently jump the shopper’s trust hurdle. For marketers and merchants that means presenting older goods in new ways that keep shoppers buying.

MARK DECKARD
Guest
MARK DECKARD
13 years 6 months ago

Obama was the 2008 Product Launch of the Year.

All else pales in comparison, considering gross impressions and dollars spent promoting.

As said earlier, there were few to none in the category of new, must have items, especially with tight credit and formerly expendable dollars going into the fuel tank for most of this year.

Thank God there is some relief on the fuel side now, but less expensive gas does little good when the media is constantly pounding people with messages that they are facing reduced income and job losses.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
13 years 6 months ago

When people don’t remember new products, it is more about what is grabbing “share of mind” than the significance of the product. If you think about ’08, there was quite a bit going on. Not having a new consumer product at the top of your recall list is no indictment of the products, just an indictment of the times.

Kai Clarke
Guest
13 years 6 months ago

Brand extensions and product extensions are barely new products, since they usually consist of new technology innovations built on the same platform. An upgrade is hardly a new product, or else all of this year’s computers would have hundreds of new products as their marketing position. Instead, they feature the benefits of the new technologies they embrace. Marketing being what it is, these are new products in the product positioning scheme. We often do not recall these new products because they really aren’t new. This is like the continuing of a car, year after year until there truly is a platform change or redesign. What new product?

Mary Baum
Guest
Mary Baum
13 years 5 months ago

Line extensions and spinoffs taking the place of actual new products?

One more thing that happens when your only priority is adding a hundred basis points to net earnings, and you do it by cutting costs–especially headcount–especially your best and brightest, because you can get a couple of kids who’ll take half the money.

They’ve gotta be great innovators, right? After all, they spend all their time on that Faceweb thing…and they can chat-text their ideas on their smartfonz…and get this. We don’t even have to put their gadgets in the budget–their parents can buy that stuff for them.

Wait. They do have ideas, right?

Gary Edwards, PhD
Guest
Gary Edwards, PhD
13 years 5 months ago
Whether we call them “distracted,” “cash-strapped,” or “weary,” consumers are definitely less interested in new products than they are in shoring up for the harsh economic storm. Looking beyond the weak consumer recall rates of the past year’s new product campaigns, and more importantly, at the far weaker spending patterns. Consumer spending is understandably on the decline and manufacturers and retailers must shift their approach to appeal to factors other than consumer interest in having the latest and greatest merchandise (although the Chicagoland car dealer offering a “buy one, get one for a dollar” offer might be a nice combination of new product plus great new promotional offer…). Interestingly, the foodservice industry has adopted a similar, if not slightly less aggressive, approach with many special offers and promotions (despite being loathe to go down the price reduction route) combined with a plethora of new menu items have hit the market. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, more than 500 new menu items were introduced across US chains last month alone; a record number for single month… Read more »
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