Kantar TNS Group Director Mark Standley shares the keys to successful innovation that any brand manager, CMO and CEO should know.

The FMCG sector in the UK is a mature and highly competitive market, and as a consequence the failure rate for new product innovation is high and growth can be hard to come by. If you’re looking to improve your innovation hit rate, drill down into the detail. Rather than looking at generic consumer needs, focus on very granular moments – it’s in these spaces that smart businesses are finding room to grow and flourish. Here are some top tips for finding the ones worthy of your time and attention.

1 Seize the moment
Think hard about where the gaps exist between ideal needs and current market delivery. Foster’s Radler provides a prime example. Increasingly there are moments when people are making an effort to moderate their alcohol consumption, but they still want to go out and be social. They want a low-alcohol drink option, but traditionally what’s on offer hasn’t measured up to consumer expectations. Radler is a 2% lager cut with lemon, so it’s refreshing and easy to drink. Rather than feeling cheated, the consumer has a choice he or she can look forward to.

2 One moment in time

Be choosy. There are LOTS of moments, so you can’t chase them all. Focus on the moments that offer incremental potential and are part of long-term trends. The biscuit aisle is bursting at the seams, so much so, that if you bought a different biscuit at every one of your next purchase occasions it would take you over 100 years to buy every SKU. But despite this huge array of competition, Belvita found a way to cut through to consumers. I for one can relate to when you are rushing out of the house to go to work, and end up skipping breakfast. By breaking out of the well-worn biscuit heartland of afternoon snacking and into breakfast moments, the brand created an entirely new category. They also recognised what it took to win, a portable product that sustains you until lunch, and the rest is history.

3 Be momentous

Focus on the moments that offer incremental potential and are part of long-term trends

Seek inspiration for solutions from outside of your category. Laundryheap.com has done just that, by taking the “uber-all” route, and the result is exciting and disruptive. Washing your clothes is probably not everyone's favourite moment of the day, and actually you need to buy quite a lot of stuff to make this happen. A washing machine, detergent, a clothes horse, laundry pegs, hangers, an iron, an ironing board and space to keep all of this paraphernalia – just so you can spend your time washing, drying and ironing your clothes. Make no mistake: people want clean clothes, not loads of products that enable clean clothes. Laundryheap.com has stepped in with a solution – book a pickup online, hand over the dirty laundry, receive a delivery of clean laundry in return.

4 Don’t get carried away in the heat of the moment

Businesses in the FMCG sector absolutely have to be looking to stretch their brands to find new opportunities for growth. However, the thing to be careful about is not straying beyond the core purpose of your brand.  Durex gives us a great example of a brand that played it exactly right. The company cleverly understood the moments they were serving and extended their range, and ultimately their brand, beyond safety to shift the focus to the higher purpose the brand serves – to enable people to enjoy great sex. The launch of Durex Play – a series of pleasure gels and toys – simply expands the scope of the moments that Durex is all about.

A moment of course can be a fleeting, two-second affair, such as an energy crash while running errands in the car. Or it could be a life stage, like the arrival of your first child. Moments are all around us and literally exist anytime, anywhere. What’s required is a careful focus on the moments that matter most. The ability to identify, optimise and activate these moments will drive success in FMCG businesses, so keep your eyes open and your ear to the ground to find the moments that may inspire your next Innovation!

At Kantar TNS, successful innovation involves creating fresh solutions to moments where needs are unmet. Traditionally doing this costs companies a lot of time, money and resource, but we’ve developed a really creative way to optimise this process in only seven days. Read more about our new innovation journey – Seven – here