Breaking down barriers to new products

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Breaking down barriers to new products

As the larger retail game changes, companies have had to adapt how they go about bringing innovative products to market — and the stakes have gotten higher. Dan Mack, founder of Mack Elevation and moderator of the “Ideas that Matter” panel at the 20th DSN Industry Issues Summit, said that almost half of all resources allocated to new item launches go to items that underachieve or are discontinued, and asked panelists to share what can help a new product succeed in a crowded marketplace.

CVS Pharmacy senior vice president of merchandising George Coleman said that products that set themselves apart are not simply line extensions or launches that are looking to mimic a competitor.
“If it’s truly innovative new technology, is a new form of solving a real customer problem, that can help ensure its success,” Coleman said, adding that companies should come to the table not just with a plan for the product’s launch, but its longevity over time. He also said that for a holistic launch, merchants need plenty of lead time. “We’d love to put together the circular plan, the off-shelf plan, the on-shelf plan and our personalization plans, but we can’t get all those things coordinated and robust if we don’t get enough advance warning and start planning early, because when we do they’re generally successful.

Target’s senior divisional of health care and optical John Peine shared Coleman’s emphasis on the imperative for new products to meet consumer needs. One pathway to success, he said, is having a comprehensive marketing plan, and he said that Target Media Network offers brands support in the marketing space. “We get the right products that fit our demographics, and we can put it together in the right way,” he said. “Target Media Network is a great way to unlock and propel that growth to new heights.”

Coming from the e-commerce space,’s director of merchandising, Ankit Patel, also echoed Coleman by emphasizing the importance for brands to have a long-term outlook on a new product, as well as the importance of early collaboration with retailers. He said that bringing a retailer into the launch planning process could help highlight potential avenues.

“I think that there are specific insights that retailers can bring that aren’t always available to the CPG companies,” Patel said, noting that has a sampling program that can help with product trials. “You have to be strategic in terms of where you want to deploy these launches.”