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Experiential: Finding the next big thing



Retailers, brands and manufacturers are poised in anticipation waiting to see what the next eureka moment will be in new product development. Experiential plays a major role here. Looking outwards at sectors that are inherently experiential is a good place to start –  out of home dining, entertainment and culture such as trips to the cinema or the theatre and non-traditional retail like street markets are often the birthing ground for the most successful ideas.

The experience you never knew you wanted

Above and beyond this, successful products are those that can provide a solution to a consumer’s problem – a positive experience at its most simple. That is why the gold standard for product development is to simultaneously highlight a problem and present a solution in one fell swoop. This is often visible in household and health and beauty, where, for example, many gels, conditioners, moisturisers and fabric softeners now answer challenges which 30 years ago consumers didn’t even know they had – the need for seasonally scented toilet paper being one prime example. Similarly, nobody considered shaving products, beer or sanitary towels as anything but standard supermarket trolley items a generation ago. Yet now all have been very successfully adapted into subscription services such as Harry’s, Honest Brew Honesty Box and Flux, each of them giving consumers an experience that once upon a time they never knew they wanted.

As with anything, sometimes success is down to serendipity. It isn’t always possible to predict what the next must have item or viral sensation will be, and when it does happen it will almost certainly be something most consumers could never have foreseen.

In these instances, it’s about brands and manufacturers keeping their finger on the pulse and being fleet of foot. It might not be easy to spot the next experiential trend and it’s the lucky few that are the first to hit the mark, but it’s certainly a good idea to have a responsive and flexible supply chain which can adapt as quickly as possible.

Turning a want into a need

However, retailers and manufacturers need to be careful when developing new products and initiatives based around an experiential marketing model. An easy mistake to make when products are developed with an experiential aspect in mind is to heavily promote them. The effect of this approach is the opposite of what is desired – it lowers the perceived value in the eye of the consumer. While this can be true of anything with a heavy promotional campaign behind it, for those using an experiential model, it carries the double burden of lowering the perceived value of the product and the expectations around the experience. Having the confidence in your product is vital – turning what consumers want into what they need is the blueprint for making new ideas succeed.

This is an excerpt from our report "How does that make you feel?" about the power of consumer experiences. Get your copy of the report today, and watch the video in which Phil Dorsett explains how providing an element of experience can set your NPD apart.

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Phil Dorsett

Director, Expert Solutions


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