The Problem with CPG Research

The Problem with CPG Research

By Lauren Warnock, Director of Solutions Strategy, Black Swan Data 

2023 looks set to be another tough year for CPG marketers. Consumer behavior is changing and budgets continue to come under pressure from widespread economic uncertainty.  

It’s a trend I see across the industry. And yet, it remains so, so important for CPGs to keep investing in consumer intelligence to deliver successful, consumer-centric Innovation.  

Innovation must be consumer-relevant. That’s why we build programs that involve multiple consumer studies along the Innovation process.  

These studies help us keep up with changing needs and continually validate our strategies and ideas.  

But this approach can have a negative impact.

It can really slow down decision making, which is a drain on time and money. In the worst-case scenarios, I’ve seen brands miss out on market opportunities because they act too late. 

With difficult decisions being made about how to make budgets go further and further, driving efficiency is critical.  

Across the globe, in CPGs big and small, efficiency is going to be the buzzword of 2023.  


When Innovation becomes disjointed...  

In my conversations with CPGs, I often hear that there’s no shortage of data in the Innovation process.  

There are endless inputs at each stage, from Demand Spaces and U&A studies, through to idea screenings and concept tests.  

Rather than a lack of insights, the challenge instead becomes navigating this wealth of disjointed data across different sources and methodologies.  

Innovation leaders I speak to say things like:  

“We have consumer trend reports telling us Keto is the next big thing. But our sales data says the opposite. And my CMO is telling us to move on plant-based. But we’re probably too late to the party for plant-based!”  

It’s a common theme. It must be so hard to triangulate between these different sources!  

These conflicting insights can leave Innovation and Brand managers paralyzed by indecision. Some will respond by spending more money on research to validate their strategy.  

Or even worse, use expensive and extensive concept testing methods too early in the process to iterate and screen ideas.  

It’s a slow and expensive way to innovate. But not all CPGs do this. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside forward-thinking innovators who are using tech to create a more consistent, efficient process. 


A new approach...  

Introducing a new technology or a new methodology for Innovation is no picnic. There is a comfort in keeping the legacy tools, the familiar agencies and the same processes.  

But most people I talk to across the industry are well aware of the limitations of traditional research methods.

These methods are not 100% objective, they look back, not forward, and are hard to act quickly on. And yet, these research inputs provide a sense of security. They are tried and tested. ‘Less risky.’ 

The companies we work with are balancing their legacy research methods with a new approach.  

They are using Black Swan’s predictive consumer intelligence platform to bring evidence and objectivity into the process, driving higher efficiency throughout.  

The platform leverages millions of online conversations to build needs-based segmentations that evolve as consumers and categories evolve.   

It helps users identify the growing macro needs spaces and then surfaces all the relevant ingredients, flavors, themes and benefit claims within that territory. 

This approach removes reliance on guesswork, on what feels right, or the highest paid person’s opinion. And there’s no need to commission multiple rounds of ad hoc research to validate the way ahead.  

It’s powering faster, more confident decision-making through every stage. And providing efficiency in a moment when C-suite execs are demanding it most.  

* * * 

You can read discover more about how our partners like cosnova, PepsiCo and P&G leverage Black Swan to streamline their research programs in our latest whitepaper...

CPG Insights & Innovation: How to do more with less in 2023

Lauren has worked at Black Swan or 5 years, and helps our pioneering clients, including PepsiCo, Kraft and Conagra introduce predictive, social data into their Innovation processes.