New Product Concepts: How Developing Clear Concepts Can Lead to In-Market Success

Photo of a messy kitchen sink with text over top that says, "Avoiding a Kitchen Sink Mess: How Developing Clear Concepts can lead to in-market success

New Product Concepts: How Developing Clear Concepts Can Lead to In-Market Success

I’ve been working in the Consumer-Packaged Goods (CPG) world since 1995 and I’ve often wondered just how many new product ideas didn’t see the light of day simply because they failed in concept. While I don’t have a count for you on that number, I do have some tips for how to save your own innovative ideas (and go-to-market strategy) from going down the drain by eliminating kitchen sink concepts. Keep scrolling to read more and watch the video below.

What is a new product concept?

A concept tells consumers the story of a new product. It is typically 100 words or less and focuses on a single consumer insight with features and benefits to support that insight, or reasons that consumers may want to purchase it. When developing a new product concept, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does it resonate with your target audience?
  • Do they want to buy it? (assessing purchase intent)
  • Can you accurately predict purchase intent in market using your concept?

What’s a kitchen-sink new product concept?

When a company is in the beginning stages of launching a new product idea, it’s easy to get excited about all the bells and whistles that come with it. When they are all put into one concept, however, it’s known as a kitchen-sink concept.

A new product that comes complete with a new material, new design, new technology, new color and more lends itself to the creation of a concept that includes everything but the kitchen sink. If all those new features ladder up to one single benefit, then, by all means, feel free to talk about them. However, as is usually the case, only some of the features will be important to your consumer and only some will speak to one, over-arching benefit. So, if you’re listing all the features and all the benefits in one concept, then what you’ll get is kitchen sink soup (also known as garbage), which actually ends up down that proverbial kitchen sink drain.

Why do some concepts fail?

You might think that kitchen-sink concepts are good because they have everything in them—an exhaustive list of all you’ve ever wanted to tell your consumers about the new product you’re launching. How can that possibly be bad? You’ve been thorough. And detailed. But what the consumer wants—and needs—is a single-minded idea about your new product. One thought. One insight. One small list of digestible features, laddering to one benefit. Yes, one, thread-the-needle-from-insight-to-benefits-idea. And that, my friends, is where most concepts tend to fail—when too many ideas are shared, confusing consumers and making it hard for you to understand what’s driving their purchase intent, and then also can’t be supported with that many words when you launch it in market.

In fact, we believe that many new product ideas fail to launch simply because of this one, single thing. We don’t think that R&D is off creating new products that really aren’t great. We think that more often than not, a product idea fails because a company hasn’t clearly told its story or takes too many words to tell its story, which can’t be replicated at launch.

How to turn messy new product concepts into concepts that’ll go the distance

1. Make your concept single-minded. Find ways to shorten it, make it more focused, clear and concise.

2. Consider developing two (or more) distinct concepts. If you have a kitchen-sink concept that’s currently loaded with tons of great bells and whistles and you can’t stand to part with any, break your concept into two so you can really focus on one consumer insight per concept and get a better understanding of what’s driving purchase intent. How many ways can you slice and dice the features and benefits related to your new product? Is there more than just one insight that brought your product to life? If so, be prepared to explore how these things work together to create different stories about your new product. Separate your features and benefits instead of throwing them all into the same concept (or you’ll end up with kitchen sink stew again!).

3. Test your ideas (concepts) with consumers exactly like you’re going to in market. Once you have a variety of stories to tell about your new product, consumers will tell you which ones they like and which ones they don’t. Be sure you are testing new-product concepts with groups of target consumers in-person or online via qualitative research to get some directional feedback about which stories resonate with your consumer base and then quantitatively with the same amount of words you’ll have available with your future in-market support. By understanding your in-market support and knowing how you are going to launch your product (i.e., with an on-pack violator or with a 30-second ad), you can make sure the length of your concept matches how you are going to launch in market so your quantitative testing results will better predict your in-market results.

4. Remove the waste. Cut out any unnecessary words or visuals that aren’t helping you bring the ONE idea to life. If there are sentences in your concept that sound clever but don’t deliver on the ONE idea, send those sentences and/or words down the drain to save your concept—and your innovative new product—from certain death.

Let us help you develop new product concepts that pass the test

We know that writing new product concepts and developing a go-to-market strategy is hard. We hope these tips have helped you develop single-minded concepts, and if you need help along the way, let us know.

Want to see how Writing by Design helps companies like yours develop CrystalClear℠ concepts? Watch our video on why new products fail and check out what tools we offer to help keep your concepts and ideas from heading down the kitchen sink drain.

Headshot of Patti Purcell, Writing by Design president

Patti Purcell brings 30+ years of journalism and marketing skills together to provide national and international companies with outstanding concept writing services via the company she founded in 2006, Writing by Design, LLC. She and her growing team, based in Wisconsin, have written hundreds of concepts and achieved many successful A.C. Nielsen BASES test scores over the last 10 years using their CrystalClear℠ concept writing methodology.