Customer-centricity vital for food & bev innovation success

21 November, 2016

Food and beverage manufacturers and retailers must put consumer need at the heart of innovation strategies to ensure their brands remain relevant, says Oakland Innovation’s sister company, Leatherhead Food Research.

Qualitative research* undertaken by Leatherhead with Oakland Innovation indicates that the sector is on the cusp of an age of innovation – this largely driven by escalating and evolving consumer demands. Leatherhead believes brands that can cater to these demands will be best placed to thrive over the coming years. Those that don’t could find they are disrupted by customer-focused start-ups.

To help organisations purposefully align their strategies with customer needs, Leatherhead has launched a white paper: Consumer-focused innovation for better business returns. It outlines ways to harness customer insight via data and sensory science to enhance both incremental product development and longer-term breakthrough innovation.

The paper’s author, Cindy Beeren, VP Consumer Sensory and Market Insight, at Leatherhead says unprecedented challenges in the food and beverage sector are raising the bar.

“Today’s consumers are savvy, well connected and more aware of issues such as nutrition and provenance,” she explains. “They expect food and beverage brands to offer products that suit their individual requirements. But it isn’t only about the product itself, the end-to-end experience from shopping to eating also needs to be considered. This is a challenging situation, but brands that use objective, scientific approaches to inform innovation can develop new ideas that resonate with consumers.” 

Cindy Beeren and Silvia Peleteiro, Applied Research Manager at Leatherhead, will explore some of these issues at the Food Matters Live event this week. Peleteiro is chairing and speaking at the Sensory Marketing in Practice session stream and Beeren is chairing sessions looking at Reformulating to Reduce Sugar. They will also be available on stand 630 to discuss ways in which brands can put consumers at the heart of innovation.

The white paper, ‘Consumer-focussed innovation for better business returns’ is available to download here.

* The research, conducted in July 2016, involved in-depth interviews with senior Innovation, R&D, Marketing and NPD professionals from 27 leading global food and beverage brands.

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