Marketing turns something old into something new: Consumer behavior sparks ideas for new products, expanding markets.
Introducing a new product to market can take years of research and expense. Or it can be as simple as taking something already in existence and marketing it for a different purpose. Creating or discovering a whole new use or new market for a product can be all you need to generate increased sales and growth. Observing consumer behavior is often the catalyst for new ideas.
A recent article in The Wall Street Journal outlines Hidden Valley Foods’ plan to expand its market penetration for its premier product, Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing. By repositioning the ever-popular salad dressing as the “new ketchup,” the company believes it can expand its market share and increase revenue. Updating the recipe to make the dressing thicker and creamier in order to stay atop a burger and creating new packaging and labeling, the new version will be called Hidden Valley for Everything. The company will introduce the product to the restaurant industry and grocery sales as soon as they finalize the recipe, so it can safely remain on the table as a nonperishable item, like ketchup and mustard.
The idea for repositioning the top selling salad dressing came about when a company executive observed his daughter pouring it over her salmon dinner. While ranch dressing is said to be “the most often used salad dressing in the U.S.,” the executive saw his daughter’s behavior as an opportunity to expand to a new area. Research shows that 15 percent of ranch dressing consumers use it on something other than salad, which supports the company’s move to make a play for market share in the condiment category.
Similarly, when Google learned that its customers were enjoying Google Translate more for its musical attributes than to translate words and phrases, the company saw a demand for this service with a new purpose. Customers type in a string of consonants as English for the system to translate into German, and then the computer “speaks” the phrase in rhythmic beat. The result is music to the user’s ears.
Then there is Starbucks’ CEO, Howard Schultz, who was recently credited with reviving the business by introducing a variety of new products and services. One of those ideas is a light roast coffee — a first for the coffeehouse chain that built its business on rich, dark roast flavors. When the company’s market research uncovered that “40 percent of U.S. coffee drinkers prefer a lighter, milder roast,” the product development team went to work creating their new Blonde roast.
Business owners and managers at small companies can learn from these industry leaders. Watching and listening to your consumers can often uncover the potential for new sources of revenue. Conduct a review of current products and services and think about how you might promote them to a different target market or how they may be utilized differently. By repositioning or refocusing your marketing, the potential for growth can be accomplished by just looking at the situation from a new perspective.