R&D: New Products & Lab Testing -- June 2009
The Three “Ps” for New Product Development
In product development today, speed to market is key, and the probability for success depends on it. Even with the resource constraints of time, people and money, product developers are asked to create winning product elements that fulfill consumer desires, display superior packaging, show good product acceptance (or basically good taste) and, of course, repeat sales. Winning products come in different ways. Some new products are new to the world, or may be new just to the company. There are also line extensions, revisions to existing products, repositionings and cost reductions that create new winners.
“The three ‘Ps’ to consider, from a marketing and R&D perspective, are product, package and price,” explained Allan Samson, president of ESCA Enterprises Inc., in a speech titled, “Optimizing the Three ‘Ps’ for New Product Development.” By applying the three “Ps,” more can be done with less. Materials can be taken from other resources, helping get a product to market sooner, and that is the name of the game today.
The probability for success increases greatly by applying the following. Samson advises, “Try to work smart, because today, more work needs to be done with less people. Look at everything up front and make sure it can be done before moving ahead. Consider all aspects of a product to fulfill a consumer desire, making sure it is what the consumer needs. Ask what they are looking for. What are the demographics? This needs to be looked at up front. Do not waste time on products that will not be successful.”
Packaging is not only the enclosure that provides protection from tampering, it is also an opportunity to show product information. “Superior packaging, meaning smart, convenient and eco-friendly, is what consumers desire today,” Samson states. For example, rotisserie chicken typically is packaged in a tray and dome. It currently is becoming popular to put it in a handled bag, as 80% less crude oil is used to create this bag than the domed package. Additionally, there is a 66% reduction in solid waste with the bag.
In considering new products, listen to what people want. Most new products are “me, too” products. Very few companies can or are willing to take the risk to be out there first. Products can be new to the world, new to the company, line extensions or revisions to existing lines. Product optimization involves evaluating the feasibility and asking if it can be done. The product attributes need to be identified.
Formulations break down into three layers. Using a marinade as an example, there is the core or foundation, which includes the main ingredients. The next layer is comprised of the building blocks that help build flavor, reduce cost or perform other functions. Looking at the marinade with, perhaps, a basic chicken wing in mind, contemplate how it can be repositioned. Samson notes the product coming out of such questioning resulted in chicken wings and sauce in a side bag that gets consumers involved in preparation. Product preparation needs to be decided up front and clearly explained to consumers, so they want to come back and buy it again. Developers should question how the consumer is going to use the product in order to determine easily understood preparation instructions.
A product’s promise explains exactly what is going to be delivered. Once the concept has been evaluated thoroughly, it has a better chance of success. After a product launches, continuous monitoring and improvement—with live consumer feedback in the early stages—helps ensure success. Looking ahead at product financials and costs also contributes to success.
“Optimizing the Three ‘Ps’ for New Product Development,” Allan Samson, president, ESCA Enterprises Inc., email@example.com, www.escaenterprises.com
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Ed.
Outsourcing Analytical Testing
“Choosing and working with a subcontracted laboratory generally comes down to the question of whether samples and results are secure,” stated Julie Honsa, quality assurance manager at rtech Laboratories, in a speech titled, “Outsourcing Analytical Testing.” Honsa discussed considerations for selecting a lab, stating that access to the staff, ability to tour and/or audit the facility, and to view testing (if desired) are important considerations. If an accredited lab is preferred, the primary international standard today is ISO 17025.
ISO 17025 maintains multilateral agreements between different nations, in order to facilitate agreement on methods and results between labs in different countries. The A2LA audit establishes a scope of accreditation for a lab, which basically lists the scope of tests for which they are accredited.
It can be a perk, when other services are offered at the same location. Honsa states that “sensory labs and pilot plants are convenient to have near the laboratory, especially for special projects, where sensory and analytical data need to be correlated.”
In addition, clients should look for knowledgeable customer service, technical service and nutrition labeling capabilities. Good customer service is hard to find, but is an advantage. Honsa states, “On rtech surveys, clients often comment that it is nice to be able to speak to knowledgeable personnel who can help choose the correct tests, as well as explain results.” For example, there may be 100 different moisture tests based on a sample matrix. If the wrong one is ordered, a good customer service staff would be able to point that out.
“Nutritional labeling staff ought to know regulatory requirements, correct methods and offer theoretical or database labels--when appropriate,” advised Honsa. Whether accredited or not, a lab benefits from having some type of quality management system. Documented processes in place for handling samples, storage and for all methods are indicators of quality.
Every lab has standard turnaround times for testing, and many offer rush testing for additional charges. Other questions to ask concern minimum charges, hourly charges, differences in results between labs and measurement of uncertainty of the methods. Uncertainty measures the accuracy and precision of a test and can be provided when enough data has been collected and sometimes can be linked to a specific sample matrix.
“Project design involves a great deal of consideration and a good management system. A project proposal that is agreed upon by the lab and the customer up front, in addition to documentation of project progress and changes over time, are signs of good project management. Regulations often require a study director for some projects, such as pharmaceutical studies,” Honsa explained. For best results, determine what the project should look like up front. Parameters could include differing storage conditions, sterility or other challenges. Among questions to consider are: required reporting formats, how often data will be reported or published and whether it will be utilized in marketing or other venues.
Word-of-mouth is the best advertisement for a laboratory. Trade shows, articles in publications and accreditation websites are also good ways to find labs. When a laboratory is selected and an audit desired, clients can prepare for the visit by making a list of things to see. During the tour, they should ask to see specific tests being performed, how long they have been in business and request evidence of audits. Some laboratories will show results of audits, while others will not, but there should be some proof that audits have been done.
Honsa emphasizes the importance of identifying samples specifically, in order to corroborate what was sent with the results that are received. A good lab provides insights into product development and processing. pf
“Outsourcing Analytical Testing,” Julie Honsa, quality assurance manager, rtech Laboratories, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.landolakes.com
--Summary by Elizabeth Mannie, Contributing Editor