Addressing Need is Key To New Product Success

New findings from a Nielsen global survey of respondents with Internet access reveal underlying consumer sentiment toward new product innovations. Though new products are a key source of growth and profitability for manufacturers, the vast majority of new products disappear from the shelf within the first three years of their introduction. 

The study reports that about two out of every three products are destined to fail no matter where you operate around the globe. In fact, whether you live in India, Africa or the United States, Nielsen research shows that over half of all products launched will not sustain their year one sales performance in year two. Yet, millions of dollars are spent each year to develop, market and launch the tens of thousands of new products that will line the shelves in the stores we shop. 

Global New Product Purchase Position

  • 60% wait until a new innovation is proven
  • 60% buy new products from familiar brands
  • 50% are willing to switch to a new brand
  • 45% are impacted by economic conditions
  • 39% are willing to pay a premium price

Regional New Product Purchase Position

  • Latin Americans are most eager to try new products
  • Europeans and North Americans exhibit the most trepidation
  • Asia-Pacific respondents are most likely to wait for proof of concept
  • Middle East/Africa respondents are most vocal about experiences

Source: Nielsen Global Survey, January 2013

The research shows that successful launches possess common traits that can increase the likelihood of success. In particular, new products that are driven by a true, vs. perceived, consumer need or desire will fair the best longer term. Better yet, those also offering an advantage over other products in the marketplace can help increase transaction values and deliver incremental sales to the category.

Half of global respondents are generally willing to switch to a new brand, with respondents in the Middle East/Africa and North America (57%) most enthusiastic followed by Europe (56%), Latin America (47%) and Asia-Pacific (45%).

While consumers are optimistic about adopting innovative new products, the study suggests that some are apprehensive about embracing new brands. Value, variety, proof-of-concept and familiarity resonate most with consumers worldwide when thinking about buying new products. 60% indicate they will wait until a new innovation has proven itself before making a purchase. 60% prefer to buy new products from brands with which they are already familiar. Further, the price value equation remains particularly important as 64% of global respondents say they will purchase a store brand or value option.

45% of global respondents agree that economic conditions make them less likely to try a new product and four-in-10 (39%) are willing to pay a premium price. 

Percent Global Respondents That Definitely/Somewhat Agree To The General Purchase Of New Products

Purchase Position

% of Respondents

I will purchase a store brand or value option


I like when manufacturers offer new product options


I wait until a new innovation has proven itself before purchasing


I prefer to buy new products of brands familiar to me


I like to tell others about new products


I am generally willing to switch to a new brand


Economic conditions make me less likely to try new products


I prefer to purchase local brands over global brands


I am willing to pay a premium price


Source: Nielsen Global Survey, January 2013

Overall, broad-based findings reveal that Asia-Pacific respondents show the greatest propensity to purchase new products in most product categories, which is likely driven by the structural dominance of small sized-sachets in the region and the increased opportunity for purchase occasions. They demonstrate the highest purchase propensity for buying between two and four new products in a six-month period in 14 of 20 categories.

The top five category leaders in regards to the most purchase interaction of more than four new products in the past six months is virtually identical across every region in the world.

  • Food and beverages top the list globally at 49%.
  • Clothing and apparel (26%)
  • Personal hygiene products (24%)
  • Tissues/power towels (20%)
  • Books (18%)

Cleaning products, such as laundry and dish detergents, are also popular and rank in the top five in some regions.

The top five category leaders in regards to the purchase of between two and four new products in the past six months show that clothing and personal hygiene products top the list in every region. Beyond that, differences prevail:

  • New product purchasing in the hair care category is popular in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and North America
  • Cosmetics, including perfume and cologne, rank in the top five most active for purchasing between two and four products in Europe, Middle East/Africa and Latin America
  • Personal health and over-the-counter medications top the rankings for purchase of two to four new products in Middle East/Africa and Latin America

The top five category leaders in regards to the purchase of just one new product in the past six months include products with longer purchase cycles such as electronics, appliances, cosmetics and air fresheners. Two exceptions include hair and oral care, which are also included in the top five rankings in every region. 

N.B. For the purposes of this study, new products are defined as any product not purchased in the past.

Number of New Products Purchased In The Past Six Months (Ranked as Top 5 Global Category Leaders)

4+ New Products in Previous 6 Months

   1. Food/beverages

   2. Clothing/apparel

   3. Personal hygiene

   4. Household cleaning

   5. Oral care

2-4 new products in previous 6 months

   1. Personal hygiene

   2. Clothing apparel

   3. Hair care

   4. Household cleaning

   5. Oral care

1 new product in previous 6 months

   1. Electronics

   2. Appliances / oral care

   3. Hair care

   4. Air freshener

   5. Cosmetics & perfume/ Household cleaning / Laundry care

Source: Nielsen Global Survey, January 2013

Developing a compelling new product is only part of the battle. Ensuring consumers are aware of the product and can find it on store shelves is just as critical to new product success. Nielsen’s new product awareness research shows that in-store discovery tends to be the largest driver of new product awareness. Further, TV and print advertising also continue to be leading marketing vehicles for driving awareness. However, word-of- mouth communication spurred collectively by social media and Internet usage is growing in importance. Consumers are increasingly finding the Internet and mobile vehicles just as compelling as other more traditional advertising.

A review of 21 methods to reach consumers across various media platforms is divided into four categories for the purpose of this analysis; traditional advertising, word-of-mouth, Internet and mobile. Globally, the most persuasive awareness drivers, as ranked by the likeliness to purchase a new product when learned via these methods, include a mix of all activities. However, potential reach and ease of execution varies substantially.

Globally, reliance on the advice of family and friends (77%) is the most persuasive source for new product information. Seeing the new product in a store (72%), receiving a free sample (70%), searching the Internet (67%), getting professional/expert word-of-mouth advice (66%) and watching TV ads (59%) are other top methods.

Global Percent Much/Somewhat More Likely To Buy A New Product When Learned Through These Methods

Find New Product 

% of Respondents

Traditional advertising

   Saw in store


   Free sample


   TV ad


   Newspaper / magazine


   Outdoor billboard


   Radio ad


   Direct mail


   Public transport ad


   Marketing emails


Internet communications

   Active search


   Brand / manufacturer webpage


   Website articles


   Forum / message board


   Social media


   Banner ad


   Video sharing sites


Word-of-mouth communications

   Friends / family


   Professional expert


   Job / work


   Public event





Source: Nielsen Global Survey, January 2013

Globally, respondents say the Internet is very/somewhat important when making a new product purchase decision for electronics (81%), appliances (77%), books (70%) and music (69%). More than half of respondents also consider the Internet’s influence on new product decisions for clothing (69%) and cars (68%) important.

However, the Internet’s influence on consumption categories, such as food and beverages (62%), personal hygiene (62%), personal health/ OTC medicines (61%), and hair care (60%) shows promise, with online respondents in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Middle East/Africa most engaged.

The report concludes by further explaining the obvious: products derived from a customer need tend to be more successful. This may sound intuitive, says the report, but a flawed initial frame of reference, such as focusing on product features, demographic-defined segments, or competition, compromises the effectiveness of all subsequent steps. Mapping to the circumstance of need and tightly focusing on the consumer’s job-to-be-done sparks remarkable opportunities to life, even in “mature” markets.

N.B.... Nielsen points out that the findings in this survey are based on respondents with online access across 58 countries. While an online survey methodology allows for tremendous scale and global reach, it provides a perspective only on the habits of existing Internet users, not total populations. Additionally, survey responses are indicative of respondents’ beliefs and cultural differences about purchasing habits, rather than actual metered data. For the purposes of this study, new products are defined as any product not purchased in the past.

For the complete PDF file, please visit Nielsen here.


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