New insights intoconsumer-led foodproductdevelopment
Product Design and Quality Management–Agrotechnology and Food Sciences, Wageningen UR,P.O. Box 8129, 6700 EV Wageningen,The Netherlands(e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
This paper builds upon a review of relevant marketing,consumer science and innovation management literature tointroduce the concept of
consumer-led new product development
and describe its main implementation stages.The potential shortcomings of this concept’s application inEuropean food industry are described. Contrary to previousoptimistic views, it is put forward that without signiﬁcantchanges taking place in the mindset of the organizationsinvolved in Europe’s food R&D, the way forward forconsumer-led innovation strategies in the agri-businesssector will be long and hard.
New product development (NPD) is often recommendedas a suitable strategy to build competitive advantage andlong-term ﬁnancial success in today’s global food markets.Product innovation is said to help maintain growth (therebyprotecting the interests of investors, employees and foodchain actors), spread the market risk, enhance thecompany’s stock market value and increase competitiveness(Buisson, 1995; Lord, 2000; Meulenberg & Viaene, 1998;Trail & Grunert, 1997; van Trijp & Steenkamp, 1998).Surprisingly, however, the European food and beverageindustry displays much lower research and development(R&D) investments than industries in other sectors and isquite conservative in the type of innovations it introduces tothe market. Radically new products are rare (only 2.2% of total product launches), especially when compared to thehigh number of products (an estimated 77% of total productlaunches) representing nil or an incremental level of noveltyonly that is introduced to the market every year (Avermaete
., 2004; Ernst & Young Global Client Consulting,1999). This approach to innovation, which keeps R&D costslow and implies a minute technological risk only, does allowthe introduction of a relatively high amount of differentproducts in a short time span. The large majority of foodproducts developed in this way cannot, however, beconsidered truly new. Moreover, with mere technology-based reductions of processes’ and ingredients’ costs beingfrequently marketed as new, enticing beneﬁts to theconsumer, it becomes increasingly harder for buyers toperceive the added-value of ‘slightly new’ food productsand thus reward incremental innovation (Galizzi &Venturini, 1996; Grunert, Baadsgaard, Larsen, & Madsen,1996; Trail & Grunert, 1997).It is a generally accepted fact that far too many foodproduct introductions fail. Figures vary widely, but even themore conservative estimates, encompassing only truly newproducts and excluding those that failed before reaching themarketplace, indicate that 40–50% of new productintroductions are out of retailers’ shelves within a year(Ernst & Young Global Client Consulting, 1999). Thisapparently supports those advocating that few resourcesshould be committed to discontinuous innovation in food. Itis often said that eating preferences and habits’ slow rate of change, together with the consequent consumer aversion totoo much novelty in food, constitutes a barrier to genuineinnovation too high to overcome. Nevertheless, consumers’food consumption behaviour does change, perhaps fastertoday than ever. It is also not wise to assume that consumersall share the same preferences or degree of risk-aversionconcerning innovative products. Given the global characterof food markets today, innovation may, therefore, becomemore of a necessity than an option (Galizzi & Venturini,1996; Grunert
0924-2244/$ - see front matter
2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.doi:10.1016/j.tifs.2006.02.003
Trends in Food Science & Technology 17 (2006) 457–465
* Corresponding author.
Address: Aarhus Business School, MAPP, Center for Research onCustomer Relations in the Food Sector, Haaslegaardsvej 10, DK-8210 Aarhus, Denmark. Tel.:
45 89486498; Fax: