How to create a successful product concept

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Few categories are as competitive in the Indian market as FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods). The industry is expected to reach over $ 50 billion in sales in 2016, as new entrants and legacy businesses compete for favor with consumers.

To stay on top of the evolving consumer needs, businesses must imagine and innovate cleverly with a streamlined interior processes that ensure that only the best ideas get to consumers.

Traditional marketing strategy typically involves using the “5P framework of product, place, package, promotion and price”. To that, we add two more components that have now grown in importance: the people and the proposition.

“People,” perhaps the most complex of these elements, involves gaining a deep and comprehensive understanding of the consumer segments that a brand chooses to serve. Likewise, the “proposal” is an essential element, in particular in the hypercompetitive space of consumer goods. In an industry where establishing meaningful product differentiation becomes increasingly difficult, a winning proposition can drive initial momentum, long-term success, and loyalty.

Developing a simple, focused and clear winning proposal is easier said than done. Therefore, marketers in all organizations strive to extract lessons from the past and drive bigger and better innovations for the future. In this scenario, using the proprietary BASES Factors for Success ™ framework, we were able to assess the proposals for their readiness to market and ensure that only the best pass.

So what do successful proposals do differently? We analyzed over 200 proposals that were evaluated in India, across several disparate FMCG categories to see what made the winning proposals tick.

The success of the new proposals can be largely attributed to three factors:

1. Understand the “consumer tension”: When introducing a product, it is important to identify a consumer need or pain point, but positioning it appropriately is crucial. And within that framework, marketers need to identify the right emotion, in addition to finding the right balance when setting context, whether functional or emotional. While the purely functional benefits solve the problems consumers face, a good proposition will also establish an emotional connection with the consumer.

2. Convincing advantage for the consumer: The benefit to the consumer must be at the heart of the proposition and be clearly communicated. While a simple, cohesive story around the end benefit isn’t negotiable, adding too many benefits can be counterproductive. We have seen that proposals that sell more than three perks at a time often fail because consumers struggle to see the main benefit of the proposition.

3. A compelling reason to believe: Consumers must be convinced of the claims made in a proposal. This is where harnessing an effective reason to believe becomes critical. A reason to believe is an ingredient or a process that explains why the product should work effectively to deliver the benefits it promises.

To create winning propositions, as a marketer, you must strive for lasting differentiation in your proposition, and that differentiation must be achieved using the benefit and not just the format.

For example, black toothpaste would stand out, but not really offer a distinct benefit. To get your story across at home, focus on a few sharp selling points and make sure the promises you make to consumers are not only kept, but exceeded through strong product performance.

The author is Director, Innovation Practice, Nielsen India.

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