Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

How to create a successful product concept

To stay on top of constantly evolving consumer needs, firms need to ideate and innovate smartly with streamlined internal processes that ensure that only the best ideas reach consumers

Few categories are as competitive in the Indian marketplace as FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods). The sector is expected to reach more than $50 billion in terms of sales in 2016 as new entrants and old firms jostle for favour with consumers.

To stay on top of constantly evolving consumer needs, firms need to ideate and innovate smartly with streamlined internal processes that ensure that only the best ideas reach consumers.

Traditional marketing strategy typically involves using the “5P framework of product, place, pack, promotion and price". To this, we add two more components that have now risen to prominence—people and proposition.

“People", perhaps the most complex of these elements, entails dealing with acquiring a thorough and complete understanding of the consumer segments a brand determines to serve. Equally, “proposition" is a vital component, especially in the hyper-competitive FMCG space. In an industry where establishing meaningful product differentiation is becoming more and more difficult, a winning proposition can drive initial momentum, long-term success and loyalty.

Crafting a simple, focused and clear winning proposition is easier said than done. Consequently, marketers across organizations strive to extract learnings from the past and drive bigger and better innovations for the future. In this scenario, by using the proprietary BASES Factors for Success™ framework, we were able to evaluate propositions for their in-market readiness and ensure that only the best ones go through.

So, what do successful propositions do differently? We analysed more than 200 propositions that have been evaluated in India, across several disparate FMCG categories to see what made winning propositions tick.

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

1. Understanding ‘consumer tension’: When introducing a product, it’s important to identify a relevant consumer need or pain point, but positioning it appropriately is crucial. And within this, marketers need to identify the right emotion, besides striking the right balance when setting the context—be it functional or emotional. While pure functional benefits solve problems that consumers face, a good proposition will also connect emotionally with the consumer.

2. Compelling consumer benefit: The consumer benefit needs to be at the heart of the proposition and be plainly communicated. While a simple, coherent story around the end-benefit is non-negotiable, throwing in too many benefits may be counterproductive. We have seen that propositions that sell more than three benefits at once often fail as consumers struggle to see the key benefit of the proposition.

3. A persuasive reason to believe: Consumers need to be convinced about the claims made in a proposition. This is where leveraging 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 in delivering the benefit it promises.

To create winning propositions, as a marketer, you would need to strive to achieve sustainable differentiation in your proposition, and this differentiation should be achieved using the benefit and not just the format.

For instance, black toothpaste would stand out, but wouldn’t really offer a distinct benefit. To drive your story home, focus on a few, sharp selling points and ensure that the promises you make to consumers are not just delivered but exceeded through strong product performance.

The author is Director, Innovation Practice, Nielsen India.