Getting real: Generating NPD solutions that work

image created by Javi_indy –


Working on NPD for healthy meal solutions, it struck me, once again, just how important the reality factor is in generating product innovation that has genuine relevance, and therefore a chance at commercial success.

We were working in a situation where our client had some NPD ideas that performed well qualitatively but were bombing in quant. screening and nobody could quite put their finger on the reason why.  The solution was to ‘get real’!

We recruited to the same health-based segmentation as for previous studies, but thought long and hard about how we could prevent the ‘beauty parade’ approach that can occur in NPD groups.

Putting people in touch with the ‘me that I am’ as opposed to the ‘me I like to present to the world’ is crucial.  We used two pre-tasks to up our reality quotient.  We sent our group participants out to buy something ‘healthy and delicious’ to help them produce a midweek meal, and they completed a photo audit of their cupboards/fridges.

Getting our heads around their thinking as to what makes ‘healthy and delicious’ work for them was eye opening.  We saw how their vision of themselves, in relation to health, got diluted as it was filtered through the reality of everyday life.  Factors such as convenience, ease, and managing the family’s needs made a significant impact.

The warm up exercise where people introduced their ‘healthy and delicious’ choices, equipped us with a semiotic lexicon as to how health is decoded at point of choice.

It also meant that everyone in the group had ‘outed’ themselves, in terms of their ‘reality’ of healthy eating as opposed to the vision we like to present to the world and sometimes ourselves; making for a much more productive group experience.

The net result is two winning ideas; reimagined and reshaped in a way that is grounded in customer need and expressed in a way that works with how health is decoded.  It also helped the client think about their segmentation through the ‘messy’ lens of real life, rather than the neat ordered world that quantitative output can create.

As is often the case with research, it’s the tiny details that make a difference; and nowhere is this more helpful than bringing the reality factor into research.