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Having the right stuff

More than one-quarter of Canadians bought a new product on their most recent grocery shopping trip. Here's why.

Imagine a store that never added a new product. How dull would that be?

New products add excitement for shoppers. They also drive profitability and growth, helping retailers and CPGs stay relevant with customers, even when the economy is sputtering.

Shoppers want to see new products. Close to six in 10 Canadians (57%) say they like it when manufacturers offer new products. More than one-quarter (27%) say they purchased a new product during their most-recent grocery-shopping trip, according to Nielsen research.

Yet the success of new products is hardly assured. Shelves are crowded and competition is intense. A lot goes into making a product a bona fide winner.

One of the most important is that it meet consumer buying preferences. Here are four preferences important to Canadians now.

THE RIGHT PRICE

In September, Canada dipped back into recession. But guess what? Forty-six per cent of Canadians believe we never got out of the last recession (though it ended in 2009). Consumers in a recessional mood are less likely to trial new products.

More than three in 10 Canadians (32%) said recent economic events make them less likely to try new products. And when we asked Canadians what types of products they’d like to see on store shelves, nearly half (49%) said they wanted to see more affordable products (see chart).

Canadians want products that stay within their budget. New product innovation must start by understanding which trade-offs consumers will make when they can’t afford a product.

CONVENIENCE

Shoppers want products that free up their time. One-fifth of Canadians said they purchased a new product because it was convenient, and 12% said they purchased it because it made life easier. The desire for convenient products is even higher.

Close to one- quarter said they wish more products were available that are convenient to use (23%) and make their life easier (22%).

WELLNESS

As a nation, we’re not happy with our health. More than half (59%) of Canadians in Nielsen’s recent “Global Health & Wellness Survey” consider themselves overweight, and 52% are trying to lose weight.

On the list of new products consumers can’t find in stores, but wish they could, are ones that fit a healthy lifestyle (23%) and are made with natural ingredients (22%).

But healthy products don’t have to be entirely new. Consumers want more fresh, natural and minimally processed options. Food companies can address those desires by removing ingredients not considered healthy from the products they already have on shelves.

MORE GREEN

Consumers say they care about the environment. But when faced with eco-friendly products in stores, words and deeds often part ways. A telling statistic from Nielsen’s global research: only 7% of people purchased a new product because it was from a brand that cares about the environment.

Even less (4%) did so because of the brand’s social responsibility cred. But insincerity may not be the sole reason for these low numbers. Green product availability–or in this case, unavailability–may be partly to blame.

In Canada, for instance, 19% say they wish more ecologically friendly products were available, and 11% wish more products were committed to positive social impact. Yet only 7% say they’ve purchased a product for its environmental benefits and 4% for social benefits. So the potential for green product sales may be greater than we think.

Remember, not all new products will be winners. But you can increase the odds by understanding what makes consumers want them in the first place.

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