Exploratory research for a european food Manufacturer Entering the U.S. Market
How does a European-based food manufacturer known for innovation break into the U.S. market, especially when their new product may seem a bit “foreign” to U.S. consumers?
A European-based food manufacturer approached C+R for help evaluating and optimizing a new product offering designed for U.S. consumers. Their ultimate goal? Successfully introduce a new sector within the bread category.
Orienting a European-Based Food Manufacturer to U.S. Consumers
Our client, a fresh-prepared foods manufacturer well-known in Europe, had only recently arrived in the U.S. market. Nevertheless, the manufacturer was eager to create a new sector within the U.S. bread category by developing a chilled bread proposition.
Although our client was uniquely situated to become a market leader with this proposition, they lacked both familiarity with U.S. consumer attitudes and behaviors towards the bread category and an understanding of the best way to position their new product in this market.
Our task? Ground the client in the U.S. bread market landscape while uncovering specific opportunities and considerations for their chilled bread product offering.
A Four-Step Iterative Qualitative Study
First, to provide our client with an understanding of the bread category as a whole—and the chilled bread segment in particular—we leveraged our partnership with Numerator. Using Numerator’s receipt-based consumer shopping behavior data, we provided our client with insight into the purchasing behaviors of U.S. consumers across all retailers with respect to the bread category and its various segments.
Next, we set about testing U.S. consumers’ reactions to our client’s product offering – a chilled flatbread. While not our original plan, we ended up completing a four-step, iterative qualitative study. For our first step, we conducted focus groups among bread purchasers in three major markets to understand consumers’ receptiveness to the client’s chilled bread concept.
Based on consumer feedback gathered during the focus groups, our client revised their concept. And, a few weeks later, C+R headed back into the field to test a broadened range of product formats and flavors with new branding and packaging designs. Through this second round of focus groups, we identified three product formats with multiple perceived usage occasions and three flavors that “wowed” consumers. Additionally, the product’s revised branding, product name, and packaging design did a superior job of communicating high “artisan” quality – something consumers would expect to find in an in-store bakery. However, the second set of focus groups also confirmed a learning from the first round of research – although the client considered its product to be flatbread, its unique shape and texture did not signal ‘flatbread’ to consumers.
To address this challenge, C+R led a half-day product naming workshop at our offices. The workshop included some especially creative C+R employees, consumers, and our client team. Through multiple creative activities, the group generated a list of “basket worthy” product names and packaging messages to take back to consumers during the final round of focus groups.
In the final round of consumer focus groups, we validated and refined the client’s final product, packaging, and messaging to prepare for launch. This involved:
- Confirming which product formats, tastes, and flavors garnered the most perceived use and occasions
- Identifying the product name, package design, and message that best communicated the fresh, in-store bakery feel the client desired
- Evaluating an improved chilled location within the bakery and deli area
Upon completion of the project, we produced a video sizzle reel with highlights from the consumer focus groups to help sell-in the product to grocery retailers.
Ready for Launch Day
Our initial quantitative and iterative qualitative approach provided our client with actionable insights throughout the project, leading to a richer understanding of U.S. consumers’ needs and expectations regarding the new product, and the bread category overall.
We were so excited to see that this partnership and collaborative effort led to the first product being launched in the U.S. at select grocery retailers!