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Food and drink innovation: what are the success factors?

020At the food fair SIAL 2016 more than 2000 innovative products were presented. In other words some 10% of the world’s yearly food innovation was concentrated in one place during one week. Amazing opportunity for a market researcher like me. Yet 50% of those products will die in the next 6 months. All the money poured in their development, marketing and distribution will be lost.

What is innovation?

We don’t want to oppose here technical innovation and other types of innovation (marketing, packaging, …). There is no good or bad innovation. The only definition of innovation we can think of is when the consumer extracts value from it.
A consumer can be better off with a new packaging, with a technically improved product, with a new recipe, … you name it. It’s only a matter of value.

How is value extracted from innovation

Market researchers in the food industry usually agree that the benefit number 1 for the consumer is “pleasure”; how much please do you get from the consumption of a given product. Food consumption is an hedonic experience and that’s why pleasure is ranked so high.
Whatever the other benefits, if it doesn’t taste it won’t be adopted (remember Yakult in Europe?)

What are the other criteria to extract value from innovative food products

Once everyone agree that pleasure is number 1 (and by far) the ranking of the other criteria doesn’t really matter. But here again frameworks used in market research distinguish between 4 criteria: health, energy, practicality, ethics.
Innovative products should therefore be assessed on the basis of those criteria to determine, whether or not the benefits are sufficiently important and relevant.


Innovative food products will survive in the market if consumers extract sufficient value from the consumption. This value can be assessed on a set of 5 criteria largely dominated by the hedonic component of the purchase, i.e. the pleasure of the consumption. The other criteria (health, energy, practicity, ethics) are secondary benefits that can complete the whole experience but will never surpass pleasure.
In other words, if you want to innovate make sure the qualitative properties of your product are irrefutable. That’s exactly the positioning of Alain Milliat‘s juices and it’s been a successful recipe for years for Alain who has built a respected brand worldwide (read Alain Milliat’s interview here).

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Pierre-Nicolas est Docteur en Marketing et dirige l'agence d'études de marché IntoTheMinds. Ses domaines de prédilection sont le BigData l'e-commerce, le commerce de proximité, l'HoReCa et la logistique. Il est également chercheur en marketing à l'Université Libre de Bruxelles et sert de coach et formateur à plusieurs organisations et institutions publiques. Il peut être contacté par email, Linkedin ou par téléphone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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