How to introduce a new food into the U.S. market

How to introduce a new food into the U.S. market

The Challenge

Our client has a highly-popular international food item (a non-meat Turkish street fare) which they would like to introduce into the U.S. food market.
– Explore how consumers might use the product
– Determine how to position the product in the U.S.
– Identify any product adjustments to better fit the U.S. palate

Our Approach

Conduct qualitative focus group discussions with potential consumers who are open to the idea of a popular Turkish street food fare. We offered a buffet to allow sampling and pairings and looked for consumers who were “adventurous eaters” – those who have tried other international foods, such as Falafel, Gyros, Hummus, Tabbouleh, and Tar-tar.

What We Learned

Overall, the product was well-liked and generated excitement as a new flavor experience with multiple usage occasions.

Product

Because we did not define how this food product should be consumed, we were able to explore what was interesting/desirable to US consumers, versus setting expectations as to how it is typically consumed (in other countries).
– The expected form – a dry mix – wasn’t perceived as highly desirable, but once consumers were allowed to “play with the product” new ideas were uncovered.
– Consumers also identified additional usage occasions, aside from the typical “street fare”.

Marketing

The Turkish roots of the product were a highly appealing feature.  And, anchoring to other established international products offers familiarity yet a sense of adventure.  However – while meatless – the product should not be marketed as vegan as that label is too restrictive.

Want more? View the case study.

What Happens When Ingredient Changes Result in Two Different but Equally-Liked Options

What Happens When Ingredient Changes Result in Two Different but Equally-Liked Options

The Challenge

Our client is considering a different formulation for its Chipotle Veggie Chip and wants to ensure
there are no discernible differences between the reformulations and Current.  The reformulations include one prototype using a new flavor house and three prototypes using reduced seasoning levels from the current flavor house.

Our Approach

Compare the current formulation to the revised prototypes to determine if consumers equally accept
any/all formulations. And, determine any optimization priorities for the new formulations to ensure they deliver as well as Current.

 What We Learned

 

Insights to Action

Although Control, Chipotle Reformulated and Test 1 are equally liked for nearly all measures,
Chipotle Reformulated is significantly better optimized for vegetable flavor over Control and Test 1
and better optimized for chipotle flavor over Test 1.

Still, there’s risk in switching to Chipotle Reformulated, as it does not emulate the current Veggie
Chip profile in the same manner in which Test 1 does. Flavor differences detected in Chipotle
Reformulated could indicate that this formula is more “potato-chip” like, thereby potentially
alienating current consumers.

Want more?  View the case study.

Understanding Core & Category Consumer Impact of an Ingredient Change

Understanding Core & Category Consumer Impact of an Ingredient Change

The Challenge
Can we reduce overall cheese content by 10% in our cracker product without negatively impacting consumer perception?

Our Approach
Test the current product against the test product with both medium and heavy brand consumers to determine if consumers equally accept the test product.

What We Learned
Heavy brand users were able to identify differences between the current and test products.

However, heavy brand consumers also purchase competitive product just as frequently. Since the proposed ingredient change resulted in a slightly less satisfactory product, if implemented, these flavor and texture differences present a risk to the franchise and may erode perceptions of the brand over time.

If this change has to be implemented due to productivity (cost of goods reduction), we recommend that our client enhance flavor and texture perceptions.

 

Click here for the full case study.

Case Study: Understanding Parent-Child Perceptions of a Snack Pack Product Line-Up

Case Study: Understanding Parent-Child Perceptions of a Snack Pack Product Line-Up

The Challenge

Our client launched a Kid’s Pudding Pack line that did not perform as expected in market.  Post-launch they wanted to understand consumer perceptions of the offering and product performance to help increase sales.

Parents evaluated the concept and observed their kids’ evaluation of the products to provide a balanced perspective in order to determine what optimizations could be made to enhance these products.

 

Our Objectives

Determine barriers to purchase among parents based on the concept.

Determine kids’ & parents’ overall reactions to the offering.

Gain a detailed taste evaluation from the kids.

Understand specific concept likes & dislikes and disconnects in the product experience.

 

What We Learned

Parents and kids liked the Pudding Pack concept with Very Vanilla and Super Strawberry as the top contenders.

Broken cookies are a problem, because it erodes perceptions of quality and diminishes perceptions of ease of use.

The product was considered portable and not too messy.

Click here for the full case study.

What’s in a name? Healthy versus wholesome.

What’s in a name? Healthy versus wholesome.

The Challenge

As marketers and market researchers, we know that words are pretty important. We have to understand what a word means to consumers and what they really want when they say that word. We explored this dichotomy as it relates to snacks in our Healthy versus Wholesome poster for The Society of Sensory Professionals.

Our Approach

Explore the differences and desired product attributes for healthy and wholesome snacks.

Phase 1: The Snack App
Consumers log their snacks for 24 hours and answer questions about their snacks.
We use the data to inform our lines of questioning and stimuli for focus groups.

Phase 2: The Focus Groups
Consumers complete pre-work assignments prior to meeting in the groups. Work includes journaling about snacks and uploading photos.
Consumers participate in different focus groups – one discusses the meaning of wholesome snacking, while the other discusses what healthy snacking is.

Insights to Action

While the occasions for healthy and wholesome snacks are the same, there are differences in the sensory attributes and emotional benefits of each. In developing a snack bite with “healthy” or “wholesome” positioning, Product Developers should focus on the prioritized sensory cues in order to create an aligned and satisfying experience.

Want more? (View the poster.)

Creating Differentiation in a Cluttered Category

Creating Differentiation in a Cluttered Category

The Challenge

How should we talk about our new-to-the-world product offering in order to position it against other offerings in the dairy aisle?

Our Approach

Gather consumer-generated sensory language in a focus group setting to describe the product’s taste and texture attributes.

Explore usage occasions and comparison to products in adjacent categories.

Insights to Action

While the product was very well-liked, consumers were not likely to use it to replace their current product.

Positioning the product against other offerings in the dairy aisle was less appealing than calling out new usage occasions based on the taste and textural attributes.

Marketing was guided to develop a positioning around the most appealing attributes rather than pitting the product against current offerings.

How to Extend the Product Platform through New Occasions

How to Extend the Product Platform through New Occasions

The Challenge

As part of a strategic growth initiative for a line of sweet baked goods, our client wanted to explore new occasions, mainly breakfast. Our client had four platform ideas, which would extend them deeper into the category, as well as provide new occasions.

Our Approach

Co-Create in an iterative process with Category Prime Prospects to first determine unmet needs and then generate product ideas around those needs (funneled approach).

Explore a range of stimuli to provide appropriate language and product cues to take forward to concept and product development.

Insights to Action

If extending into the morning occasion, any products would have to reinforce convenience and deliver value.

The need for convenience eliminated one of the platforms, because consumers found it would not deliver this benefit.

Another platform was eliminated, because consumers could not recognize the value it brought.

This guidance was critical in helping our client narrow down and focus their efforts.

Developing a Line Extension for a Mature Brand

Developing a Line Extension for a Mature Brand

The Challenge

Our client was working on a line extension for an iconic frozen brand. The team wanted to determine how far they could stretch the product offerings within their brand portfolio, by introducing a line of frozen sandwiches.

Our Approach

Conduct a central location test to determine product-concept fit.

Determine if category users give client permission to extend brand into the frozen sandwich arena and understand the potential for this line extension.

Insights to Action

The desired product benefits in the concept were not strong enough to outweigh the weak product
delivery. Specific product guidance was provided to help guide product optimization.

The competitive context for these sandwiches is not other frozen products, but rather fresh alternatives, whether made at home or from a Quick Service Restaurant.

Although the pricing for these prototypes is slightly lower than Quick Service Restaurant pricing, the
prototypes were not able to deliver the same level of satisfaction as their QSR competitors.