thought leadership

FIND YOUR FOCUS: Clean Label Category Review

Gain category and competitive insights, uncover the opportunities for success

By Emily Cruz (CuliNex) and Dave Lundahl (InsightsNow)

While there are many different product development philosophies, the product development process looks relatively similar across different industries. In today’s hyper competitive clean label marketplace, the entire process needs to happen in record time, i.e. yesterday. Because of this, once the initial discovery process is complete it can be tempting to jump straight into concept ideation and validation, but that can be a fatal mistake. Successful product development requires a deep understanding of consumer behaviors and desires, the competitive environment, and potential whitespace opportunities. How do you thoughtfully narrow the path of focus while sprinting towards product launch in record time? And how do you develop a successful strategy to win in the category?

Enter the CRAEVS Solution, a series of rapid, iterative sprints that starts with an intensive “Find Your Focus” 1-2-week Category Deep Dive sprint.  This sprint will help you make informed decisions by asking the right questions from the very inception of a project. This step is vital in bringing focus for successful downstream concepting, prototyping and validation in market.

Key questions to answer during the “Find Your Focus” sprint include, “what is the competitive set?”  This typically is discovered by considering where will your new innovation or renovated product play, i.e. what category or categories might it be placed into within a store shelf set? Innovation initiatives may have already addressed this question through a white space discovery study.  In any case, defining your competitive set helps provide additional focus by answering the next question, “what criteria will you use to achieve success in-market?” Are you seeking to protect your position in a category or to take share away from other competitive brands? It also provides a framework to ask about your product design strategy to achieve your defined success criteria.

The “Find Your Focus” sprint includes an in-depth review of the category and consumer behaviors, including physical and/or virtual retail store walks.  It includes a competitive landscape review including an evaluation of current and competitive products to uncover potential opportunities to achieve your success criteria through product design.  Consumer research is also typically conducted to create the baseline category KPI’s (drivers of choice) that you can use to not only make early product design decisions, but to establish success KPIs for successive sprints.  This can include the building of product scorecards and recommended formulation strategies through consumer and product insights. It can also include consumer insights through primary research or by accessing the InsightsNow Innovation Center of information about which ingredients are most perceived to be clean label or most importance to include as a claims, or to identify which ingredients are most associated to benefits that position your product from your competition.

Finding Your Focus is a quick, essential sprint to add prior to concepting and prototyping. It will not only inspire and guide concepting and future prototyping, it will help you establish baselines for concept, prototype, in-market product success criteria in-store and in-home.

Ultimately, this multi-dimensional category research will serve to drive your strategy to win and set your brand up for success.