Product innovations that help consumers to save time and do things better are more important than saving money for shoppers, new research from GfK has found.
Snacks and household cleaning are the sectors that rely most on product innovation, said researchers. In-store and TV advertising remain the top ways for finding out about new products.
According to the research, 84% of respondents said innovation meant a product that would help them improve ways of doing things, followed by one that provides a solution to an existing problem (73%) or offers them an easier way of doing things (73%). Almost three quarters (72%) said their definition of innovation was the use of technology to solve a problem. Sixty one per cent of respondents said it would be a product that gave them a faster way of doing things.
The most important benefits product innovation brings to consumers were making life easier (83%), helping people do things better (81%), saving time (75%), convenience (77%) and entertaining them (33%). ‘Saving money’ was third on the list at 80% – suggesting, despite the recession, consumers consider some of the benefits of product innovation are worth paying extra for.
The top five categories where people buy new products are snacks (ie sweets, crisps biscuits), household cleaning products, packaged food, perishable food, and oral care. 56% of those surveyed had bought a new snack food at least once in the past 12 months, with 11% buying a new product in this category more than five times. 50% had bought a household cleaning product that they considered to be “new and different” in the past 12 months, with 23% buying one during the year two to five times.
Seeing a new product in-store is by far the most popular way of finding out about it, followed by TV advertising – particularly powerful for household cleaners, hair care, laundry products and soft drinks. Family and friends are also a powerful source as are print ads, features and professional advisers. In the online world, internet searches and websites are used more than social media.
The role of the brand
Launching a new product can be a good way to get consumers to trial brands. People are willing to try new products from brands they don’t usually buy in a range of categories, with packaged and perishable food (both 35%), soft drinks (33%), snacks (32%) and household cleaning (32%) topping the list. Trusting a brand is a pre-requisite for some. Four of the top five categories where consumers will only buy a new product if it’s from a brand they trust are health and personal care: oral care (23%), health care (22%), packaged food (22%), hair care (21%) and skin care (21%).
However, there is plenty of scope for further innovation as there was no one category where more than a third (31%) of those surveyed said it met all their needs.
Head of FMCG for the UK, Peter Jenkins from GfK, said: “There is no doubt of the importance of product innovation in the grocery sector – particularly for products such as snacks and drinks, household cleaning and laundry products and toiletries. Even in these straitened times we see that if people believe a new product will make their lives better, the benefit is more important than cost savings.”