First and foremost, the product must taste good – many consumers will try a new product once, but if it fails the taste test they won’t buy it again.
Secondly, and perhaps obviously, the brand must have a strong proposition to deliver cut-through and ideally satisfy an un-met consumer need; either functionally, or for a consumption occasion.
Given there have been almost 250 new beverage launches in the last two years alone, it clearly requires investment to deliver cut-through. This applies both inside and outside of the store. There is no substitute for creating outstanding visibility in trade and reinforcing with heavyweight sampling, not to mention outdoor advertising, PR and social media. Simply putting the product on the shelf and hoping it works has been a rock that many brands have perished on.
A huge number of new launches have never made it past the specialist stores inside the M25. Naturally, it can be wise to prove the concept with an affluent early-adopter cohort in London but to achieve true scale the brand needs to have just as much relevance in towns and cities throughout the country.
In terms of themes for future innovation, health will continue to dominate the NPD pipeline – particularly with an emphasis on ‘healthful’ ingredients; increasingly consumers can expect to see sustainability coming to the fore, manifesting itself in new packaging innovation to reduce or remove plastic, and don’t be surprised if premiumisation becomes more important too.
As downward pressures are exerted on everyday pricing, it’s beholden on suppliers to bring creative solutions to help counter-balance value in the category. The soft drinks industry is changing faster than ever but as retailers and suppliers we need to embrace the change, and those who back the winners will build an exciting and profitable future.