It's a new year, so why not do things differently, cheaper but better?
I've worked with Lucy Thomas, NPD Manager at innocent drinks, on several new product development projects. She's agreed to do a bit of sharing on the topic here so you can benefit from innocent's cost-effective ways of developing new products.
Here are her thoughts:
"So many small companies make decisions on product formulation by taste testing on their friends and family. That can be a good start, but it is highly unlikely you will get a non-biased view. In addition, your friends and family might not represent your target consumer. Whilst it is appropriate at times to invest in consumer research that is very costly, there are more cost effective ways to give you a sense of how your products perform. At innocent we've developed some award winning products using this methodology, and we continue to do so.
1) Find out where your consumers are and tap your contacts that will help you get in front of them For example, I'll ask friends who work in offices in London, can I pop in and do a taste test at their office. People are generally really receptive, especially if you offer them something back (all our tasters get a free smoothie).
2) Test on as many people as possible. Ideally 100, but 40-60 gives a good steer. Encourage them to be as honest as possible and embrace any feedback you are given.
3) Get some advice on your methodology from the experts. We used Campden BRI http://www.campden.co.uk/ to help us design the forms tasters fill out and cover any legal requirements. They also gave us lots of tips on best practice, e.g. 11am is the optimum time for tasting.
4) Be clear on the targets you want to achieve before you do the taste test. An average score of 6 is a minimum requirement on a 1-9 scale for us. Or on a just about right scale (e.g. for sweetness), we'd expect at least 60% of people saying 'just about right'. Don't forget to look at the distribution of scores, even if you hit your average, you might have a polarising product. Not always a bad thing, but worth understanding before you launch.
5) Benchmark against your competition Decant all samples into unbranded packaging, to avoid bias.
It's really good fun, and a great way to get feedback on your products.
Finally, these guys offer a similar service, and I'd recommend you call them if you don't have time to do it yourself: http://www.wssintl.co.uk/
Happy taste testing!"
So there you have it. A freshly pressed draught of very useful advice from Lucy at innocent drinks.
Thank you very much, Lucy.