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Succeeding at NPD: A question of understanding

By Ellie Woollven

- Last updated on GMT

Holdsworth: ‘Analysing the marketplace allows brands to identify gaps for innovation’
Holdsworth: ‘Analysing the marketplace allows brands to identify gaps for innovation’

Related tags Npd

Nielsen Brandbank and FoodMaestro have collaborated on a project designed to support and help food manufacturers succeed in a market where a high number of new product developers fail.

One of the most difficult challenges facing food manufacturers and developers is the sheer speed at which the market is changing.

The term ‘fast-moving consumer goods’ (FMCG) has taken on a new dynamic as suppliers struggle to stay ahead of the game and tap into the sometimes fleeting trends. Knowing where to place your energy, investment and time becomes increasingly difficult, as does identifying where the gaps are in the competitive marketplace.

To help manufacturers navigate this landscape, two companies have joined forces to provide an insight platform designed to power the NPD process, as well as analyse and monitor the FMCG marketplace.

Nielsen Brandbank claims to have been capturing product data for over 98% of the UK FMCG market for the past 20 years and has built up a library of categories that are now widely used in the industry. Together with digital platform FoodMaestro, which uses food product data to activate shoppers through a digitally enabled health and welfare lens, the companies have developed Category Insights – effectively, an opportunity for rapid analysis of the FMCG market.

End of brand loyalty

According to a Nielsen Brandbank study, 46% of consumers are more likely to try new brands than five years ago, meaning brand loyalty “will soon become a thing of the past”, it says. Rather than

looking at the logo on the front of pack, Nielsen Brandbank argues consumers are increasingly interested in the back of the pack – namely, the ingredients. So, it’s important for suppliers to understand where their products sit among the competition and how they compare on nutrition, health and allergens.

“By using Category Insights, brands and retailers will be able to build graphs and charts to digest large quantities of data, enabling them to drill down into specific categories and products,”​ says David Holdsworth, digital product owner at Nielsen Brandbank.

“Analysing the marketplace and the products within it allows brands and retailers to understand where their current products sit – in terms of nutrition, dietary and lifestyle requirements – and easily identify gaps and areas for innovation.”

High rate of NPD failure

Research from Nielsen Brandbank shows 80% of NPD launches fail within the first year. As such, it hopes using Category Insights will give brands the “very best start to launch their product” as they will have an understanding of the competitive landscape they are entering and know if there is an opportunity to succeed.

Moreover, price, taste and convenience are no longer the key drivers of a food purchase decision, with dietary needs an increasingly important element for shoppers, argues Brenda Tran, head of digital product delivery at FoodMaestro.

“With an increasing population suffering from food allergies and medical conditions related to diet, it is extremely difficult for shoppers to find the right food and products quickly and easily​.

“The ability to leverage data and digital solutions to identify gaps in the marketplace and track products against ​[those of] competitors allows retailers and manufacturers to drive growth and innovation.”

Data evolution

The companies acknowledge that consumer demand in food and drink will continue to evolve, meaning the Category Insights platform has to develop in line with the market.

“We absolutely welcome feedback, and the platform will include a place for customers to make feature recommendations,”​ says Tran. “It is very important to us that our customers have an input into the evolution of the platform, and we listen to them to understand how we can bring the most value to and make the most impact on their businesses.

“As a leader in end-to-end product content, we do not rest on our laurels. We continue to revolutionise new technologies, so that we can equip brands and retailers for the future.”

Category Insights, they add, is designed to add value from the minute a customer builds their first graph and data set. “We have seen how manual a process it is to really understand the marketplace and for each category,”​ explains Holdsworth.

“It’s time-consuming and – with new products being added constantly – it’s increasingly hard to keep abreast of new entrants. With Category Insights constantly refreshing the data, we will be able to bring you the most up-to-date information, so you will always have an accurate view of the current marketplace.”

How Category Insights works

Once on the platform, the user enters the categories and filters what they would like to look into.

The results are illustrated via a graph – for example, showing the number of products in a category containing gluten and identifying the level of products with good/bad salt content.

As each brand wants to explore different segments, categories and/or allergies to assist with their NPD, the site allows them to identify, track and analyse the market and competitors easily.

For example, a snacks manufacturer looking to use the site would be able to do the following:

  • Establish the areas they would like to analyse and add these as filters.
  • Choose the category and sub-category and look further into filters such as allergens, sugar, salt etc.
  • It can then create a graph or graphs to be shown on its own personal dashboard.
  • If this does not show exactly what they are planning, it can easily edit the graph to suit further requirements.

Any food manufacturer looking to use Category Insights can access the platform via their Nielsen Brandbank account manager, who will issue them with a login and password, or contact them on

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