In Brands, Exclusives, Insight

The Red Tree’s innovative RaceFit™ program launched last year to help brand owners evaluate their brands’ strengths and weaknesses. An industry first, and easily completed in 25 minutes via an online platform, feedback is instant via a detailed, bespoke report full of expert advice, precisely engineered to get a brand RaceFit™. The Red Tree’s RaceFit™ Focus is sharing its content series that explores the seven key building blocks that underpin a successful brand. Our RaceFit™ is “New Product Development.”

With new, more flexible routes to market, the boom in social media, and exciting developments in active ingredients and packaging, these changes have created more space for niche brands to thrive. Propelled by consumer demand and a growing and increasingly competitive market, never has product innovation been so important to drive growth, ensure your brand stands out, and keep your customers returning. Product Development sits at the heart of the business, and with the pressure to deliver successful, state-of-the-art products in as short a time frame as possible, here are a few tips to smooth the process and reduce costly errors. Belinda Roberts heads up Snowbell Management, a London-based consultancy specializing in the development and marketing of bespoke beauty brands, and she shares her insight on NPD.

Product Brief

Once you have moved past idea generation, tested your concept, and carried out all relevant research, prepare a detailed Product Brief for each SKU. This is both a creative and commercial activity and should include the main purpose and benefits, desired claims, technical parameters, cost target, markets to be sold in, pack style and so on. This is a collaborative procedure, so get key stakeholders’ involvement and buy-in before you get underway in the lab or with the design team.

Critical Path

Essential to ensure you stay on track and manage expectations. But this isn’t simply a tick-box exercise; managed correctly it should allow sufficient time to explore creative options within the parameters of the Brief, whether this is in packaging design or assessing different formulations or fragrances. Squeeze this time too much and you risk pushing through a sub-standard, compromised product. A simple spreadsheet with week dates along the top and grouped tasks down the lefthand column is sufficient, although more complex software is around if that’s your thing. Check progress against it weekly and ensure your manufacturer is in agreement with the key dates.

Decisions, Decisions …

Keep decision-making clear, tight, and focused. Be clear about who is ultimately responsible for signing off key milestones, usually the brand owner. Woolly approvals, changes of mind, and inviting everyone’s opinion causes delays and can compromise the end product by trying to please too many people. As they say, a camel is a racehorse designed by a committee! Involve a wider internal audience at panel test stage, if that is part of your business plan.

Claims Substantiation and Regulatory Clearance

Do your research thoroughly on this and don’t leave it until two days before artwork is needed. All claims should be agreed, with the help of your chemist or regulatory consultant, at Product Brief stage. This can trip you up if you don’t plan this in advance, and be careful of copying competitor claims, they may not have been verified or they may have clinical trial data to support their claims.

Product Development is an exciting, fast moving, and rewarding part of the business, and innovation and creativity are best served when a solid foundation of agreed processes are in place to optimize productivity and ensure what comes off the production line meets or exceeds everyone’s expectations, especially the consumer’s.

Read other RaceFit Focus content:

Part One: The Brand with insight from BeautyMatter founder Kelly Kovack

Part Two: Business Planning with insight from Selwyn Pattison, Business Ambitions

Part Three: Logistics with insight from James Keable at Westex

Photo: Daria Nepriakhina via Unsplash 

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