Designers could benefit from new product explosion

The design industry looks set to benefit from a plethora of new product development briefs, as an upswing in product launches seeks to keep apace with emerging consumer trends.

The latest findings from Mintel’s Global New Products Database show that the blast of innovation experienced last year will continue unabated in 2006, driving competition to satisfy the consumer demand for alternative products.

During 2005, a product was launched every three-and-a-half minutes somewhere in the world, says the report. In total, more than 156 000 food and non-food consumer goods were introduced. Around 87 000 products launched in the food and drink sector, while some 68 000 products were unveiled in the non-food sector, with skincare, haircare and cosmetics taking the lead. Future consumer trends will evolve existing formats, generating a hotbed of creative work, as the design industry continues to play a central role in product development.

According to Mintel’s findings, more ‘functional’ products are set to flood the market, with a trend towards items that are enhanced with health-benefiting ingredients, such as Omega 3, a fatty acid typically found in fish. Products containing added amino acids are also predicted to grow in popularity.

‘The benefits of Omega 3 have been extensively researched and it is commonly seen in dietary supplements, but is now making an appearance in food and drink products. This will become more mainstream in the coming months,’ says David Jago, director of GNPD Consulting at Mintel.

Jago believes there will also be a shift towards targeting senior consumers who have become marginalised by youth marketing initiatives. ‘For many manufacturers, older consumers were once seen as a low priority, but their importance is now being recognised in light of an ageing population in a number of countries,’ he says.

Health is also influencing new product development in the drinks sector, with fmcg companies regularly unveiling alternatives to sugary, soft drinks.

Britvic Soft Drinks is poised to expand its children’s Fruit Shoot drink brand, with the roll out of Fruit Shoot H20, a naturally-flavoured, sugar-free spring water, which hits the shelves next month, with packaging designed by Jones Knowles Ritchie.

‘Categories such as water have shown continued growth in the last few years and provide great opportunity,’ says a Britvic spokeswoman.

JKR is also working with Britvic on a review of its Tango drink, which could throw up a radical, fresh look for the fizzy drink brand (DW 17 November 2005).

Products with added portion control and more bespoke, customised items are also picked out as key growth areas by Mintel.

However, Jill Marshall, managing director at Bloom Design, warns of the ‘very high failure rate’ of new products, pointing out that the design industry will only benefit if the launched items perform robustly in the marketplace.

‘People are like magpies – they are always looking for something shiny and new. However, you can’t have one-hit wonders and the designs must be based on consumer insight, looking at socio-economic trends,’ she explains.

Designers must step up to this challenge if the full benefit of the product innovation boom is to be exploited.

NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT TRENDS FOR 2006

• Enhanced products with health benefits

• Move towards targeting ‘grey’ market

• Portion control

• Customised products

Source: Mintel GNPD, March 2006

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