Asda’s announcement it is launching a 180-strong children’s food range incorporating products taste-tested by children themselves underlines the importance for both brands and retailers of authentic consumer insights as part of the new product development process.
That’s the view from leading customer insight agency Engage Research after the retailer announced its new line, an extension of its existing Chosen By You range, had been subjected to extensive independent taste testing by young children before their parents gave their own approval.
“To get authentic and valuable insights to inform your NPD or marketing strategies, brands and retailers need to know and understand their audiences to the extent that they can form proper relationships with them,” said Deborah Sleep, director at Engage Research.
“A qualitative research approach particularly when the demographic you are trying to reach is so young can help fast-track these insights, by facilitating detailed face to face interaction between clients and consumers.”
Sleep adds it is important to ensure products are tested in as natural an environment as possible for the consumer and to ensure that different aspects of the products being tested are linked to purchase intent. In this way, brands will know which dimensions are driving interest and, therefore, which elements are the most crucial to get right. For example, if the crunchiness of a topping is the most important element of a product and is therefore the feature that is driving most purchase interest, it is vital that this is absolutely right.
Although younger children particularly can’t necessarily tell you too much, how much they eat and how willingly remains a good indicator.
However, even those this is a range chosen by kids, Asda will be aware, Sleep said, parental involvement is also critical, especially with the mum’s role as gatekeeper trying to achieve the balance between what she wants in food for her child and what the child will actually eat.
“This is the age of the informed consumer, who, largely due to the availability of social platforms as a way of disseminating views and comparing one brand against another, has more power than at any point previously and who is increasingly unafraid of using it.
“Whilst a relatively small proportion of consumers are as yet moved to post regular product reviews, many more look at them before buying, whilst a quick glance through the supermarket websites shows that just about anything is worthy of comment and expectations are high. Nothing will get parents talking to their friends more – for better or for worse- than the quality of products being sold for their children.”