Helping Clients to Develop New Products Faster and with Greater Confidence



A client was planning to enter a well-established category for the first time.  It was a category in which they did not have much internal expertise and they were the fourth or fifth brand to market.  They recognized it was critical to launch a product with a compelling point of difference and superior preference.  And, as is quite common for many FPI’s clients, this all had to be achieved on a very aggressive timeline and a limited budget.

Client Research Objectives

  1. Identify the product design characteristics that are most liked and why
  2. Assess how the client’s prototypes fit into the existing competitive set
  3. Refine the marketing concept to reflect meaningful product attributes
  4. Provide direction for prototype optimization prior to launch


FPI’s Design Zone Builder

The research plan consisted of four key aspects, each critical to the success of the project:

  1. Expansive product prototyping.  In advance of the research, the cross-functional team including the client and FPI met three times for product cuttings.  The first cutting focused on competitive products and 1 or 2 client prototypes.  In this cutting, the team identified additional sensory dimensions against which to develop prototypes.  The second cutting was a team evaluation of new prototypes and refinement of development direction.  The third cutting was a selection of six differentiated samples to include in the consumer test – two competitors and four client prototypes.  This expansive sensory exploration and development on the bench was critical – as we were taking prototypes into the research that represented each boundary of the playing field.
  2. Development of a sensory description.  FPI’s staff of trained sensory scientists conducted an internal tasting of each of the test samples and developed a sensory description of each.  While not a full descriptive profile by a trained panel, this sensory documentation would prove to be integral to interpreting the consumer feedback and providing prescriptive recommendations.
  3. Small-scale quantitative taste test.  A central location taste test was conducted with 59 consumers; each consumer evaluated six of six samples, blind and rotated in order of presentation.  
  4. On the same day, conducted qualitative discussion with a subset of CLT participants (two groups of 8 consumers) – in these groups we heard consumers describe the samples in their own words and explain their likes and dislikes.  We also obtained feedback on the product positioning, naming and package design.


The FPI team analyzed the data looking for points of convergence between the quantitative data, qualitative feedback and sensory descriptions.  FPI provided both the client’s R&D and marketing teams with very prescriptive recommendations for capturing the ideal consumer DESIGN ZONE with their new product.  The R&D team returned to the lab knowing precisely what aspects of the formula to revise. Marketing returned to the office with greater clarity about the positioning strategy. 

A subsequent competitive benchmark taste test showed that the optimized formula was superior to the lead competitor by 0.7 a hedonic point. 7.1 Client versus 6.4 Competitor.

By choosing to engage consumer early and to be expansive in their prototype exploration, the client discovered their ideal DESIGN ZONE and accelerated through the development process with speed, confidence and efficiency.  They moved from just a nugget of an idea to a superior final product formula in just four months and with a consumer research budget of less than $50,000.

FPI maintains a high level of confidentiality with our clients, so we cannot divulge the exact name of the client or product in this case study.  This is one of many real examples of the superior business outcomes FPI’s clients achieve with our Consumer Centric Product Development research solutions. 

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