Product Restage Hero: The Strategic Questions You Need to Be Asking
Working on a product restage isn’t as fun as launching a new product. First of all, the canvas isn’t blank. Secondly, your business partners may be veterans of driving new product trial, but less familiar with how to grow an existing brand.
If you are unlucky, the marketer will quickly decide new packaging and a new TV campaign are the solution. After some artwork “upgrades” and thankless hours of focus groups, concept testing, and copy testing, the “new” version of the product launches. Sales remain on their present trajectory. Or, if they fiddled with the product, decline. But no one notices because the marketer has moved on to his next assignment. The product restage ends up being a costly boondoggle with no business value.
Don’t let this happen to your business. As the consumer insights manager YOU are responsible for guiding your team’s strategy. So what should your product restage checklist look like?
Covering the Product Restage Bases:
As you embark on the product restage journey, you need to wear two hats. The first, is your strategic consultant’s hat. The second is your volume forecaster’s hat. If you approach the product restage from those angles, you’ll be on the right path. To wear those hats successfully, here are some questions you should be asking your team:
Does our concept have broader appeal without shifting sand? The burden of proof the research will need to show is that the product restage attracts more new/lapsed users than the old users it alienates. Otherwise, these commercial efforts are a wash. If this doesn’t prove to be true, every other question below is just an expensive gamble. You may even be better off investing any incremental effort and money in the product as-is.
Does the product restage result in a better after-use experience than current version? If not, there is probably no point in doing a product restage. It is unlikely to even make your current users more loyal. If the concept is better and the after-use flat, you may be better off just doing a commercial restage. Without good product-concept fit for the new concept, your product restage is at risk. Without improved after-use scores, your product is unlikely to deliver a better repeat rate. If either of these are the case, shift your focus to a commercial restage.
Bigger marketing budget, not just different marketing? If the product restage proves to have sufficient appeal and after-use, the next question is around support. You don’t want to cannibalize media from other parts of your portfolio, and you do want to increase brand awareness. If the product restage offers a better use experience, but not one additional person will learn about your product, the restage won’t be much good. All you will do is delight your (presumably dwindling) base of current consumers.
Will the product restage be enough to earn new retail distribution? This is a question for the sales team. We know they love innovation, but is this new restage enough to “wow” more retailers? Will it help the brand win back trust and support that the original version lacked or lost? If your distribution assumptions are flat, encourage your team to set higher standards for the elements above.
Whether you have more or the same, will it earn the product “better” retail distribution? In other words, will all this effort and investment at least get the product off of the bottom shelf? Hopefully the new appeal, usage, and investment story arms the sales or category team with enough data to show the product at least deserves a better spot on the shelf.
Will the product restage create a change in purchase frequency or volume? This is unlikely without up-counting or down-counting the product’s size or size assortment. Further, it’s hard to confidently predict this even with usage testing. Only in rare circumstances will this factor make-or-break a restage.
Will the product restage result in less sourcing from other products in our portfolio? A last and final consideration is will the changes to the product result in less cannibalization? If so, even if the volume stays flat v. current, the increased incremental volume may make the initiative worth it. Again, this is easy to speculate and hard to conclusively prove pre-market.
How Do I Prove-Out These Elements of a Product Restage?
Like many of Nielsen’s other cool quantitative capabilities, they have a way to forecast restages. Using the legacy BASES Restager, they test the product among current users and non-users to understand the consumer dynamics. Then, by assessing historic support v. planned support for the restage, assess the increases in awareness and accessibility. Nielsen is then able to provide an estimate of the restage’s growth and the elements that drove the greatest incremental growth.
Product restages are not sexy, but they are strategically challenging. As a Market Researcher, you need to understand a number of moving pieces. If you have a strong understanding of trial, cannibalization, and volume forecasting, you can be instrumental in guiding the project’s strategy. Hopefully the check-list of questions above helps you ask your team the right questions to make your product restage a success.