The Challenge: Sustaining Winning Growth
The FMCG industry has shifted to a competition that is driven by innovation.
The FMCG industry has shifted from a competition based on manufacturing, to one that is driven by innovation. The Asian market has transformed from “just selling” to “consumer marketing”. Brands have been investing heavily in innovation to keep up with the fast-changing needs and tastes of their target markets. Responsive, consumer-driven innovation will not only drive growth to a company, but will also make a brand ultimately part of consumers’ lives. Companies willing to test the waters are companies that will be able to set sail. With an array of products to choose from, consumers learn to have a more sophis-ticated decision-making process, affected not only by needs and personal tastes, but also of deeply embedded cultural and emotional val-ues. How do you make an epic, successful launch?
Touch base with your target market. Instinctive, data-driven understanding of your market and consumer insights based on panels and extensive research will lead you to unbiased decisions. Balance gut feel, entrepreneurial decisions with the right dose of market responses based on simple performance indicators. Factor in market impulses in every step of the innovation process, backtracking or sidestepping to make way for the voice of your target consumer. Ask your consumers what they like and don’t like about your product, especially in relation to a competitor. Being side by side with your consumers is critical in getting things right, be it product development or branding. It is then that you can give your consumer what he’s looking for. Because consumer behavior is now more sophisticated and in a sense, more demanding, brands should strive to cater to a need or a want directly. This should include product fine tuning, pricing, as well as promotion strategies. For instance, it might be worthy to look into the correlation between income and health. How do you respond to such a behavior? How do you refine your products to suit this situation?
Recognize the embedded culture in your market. The Filipino consumer wants to keep up with the fast-changing times. However, he is also deeply rooted in a cultural heritage that hugely influences his buying behavior. Tune in to these inner voices that speak through your consumers’ everyday habits. And then integrate emotional calls with functional benefits. For instance, it is very important for every Filipino brand to be present both in the supermarket and in the sari-sari store. These are done on top of frequent TV commercials and online adverts that reinforce a message, usually geared towards moms and their desire to give love to their families whenever their clothes smell divine. A good launch can take a unique place in the market when it pioneers an entire culture.
Take your cue from global brands. Imitation plus is an innovation strategy that takes an already existing product in the international market and fine tunes it to suit the needs and wants of local consumers. Areas such as packaging, taste, overall look and branding can be explored when observing other successful international brands. In an Asian market such as the Philippines, a marketing strategy that sincerely recognizes and reflects core Filipino values while suggesting new trends can be effective. Take note that localizing a product should be an upgrade, never neglecting the potential of the product to break international barriers. Set high standards in terms of quality, using highly successful international brands as benchmarks.
Be agile, be fast. Micro-launches can give you traction for creating superb products. As you quickly launch, test, and listen in to consumers, you get to pick up lessons and points of improvement. Be responsive based on the results of consumer panels and market research, and tweak your products to have a wider reach and a stickier footing. This will ultimately lead to a product evident of a company’s genius and its concern for its market.
Be online, all the time. The Internet is not “new” media anymore. In fact, the Philippines is among the fastest growing nations when it comes to internet penetration. Look for oppor-tunities and place online experts across every department. Teenagers, as well as millennials, are a volatile market, for instance. While they are greatly influenced by current trends that quickly show up and disappear on their social media feeds, they’re also hungry to assert their individuality and uniqueness. But don't neglect the good old tube. Advertising is a powerful tool that can bring forth a more meaningful state-ment for a brand. Advertising via different me-dia multiplies this power exponentially, reaching and affecting big market shares.
Your next story of innovation will be a success if you have a strong follow-through of feedback, continuous response to your market, inclusive talent development, and rigorous advertising and promotion.
Rinse and Repeat
The hustle never stops. Today, your company may be the leader in your category. But remember, a new product is launched every two hours. You would not take that sleeping and resting on your laurels. Leaders are movers, constantly looking for ways to further the market. So long as your goal is for the betterment of your consumer, you will always be able to envision the future with products that are always aligned to the improvement of consumer experience. So innovate today – create, get feedback, tweak. Rinse and repeat.
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Marie Anne Lezoraine
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