My friends and I were reminiscing about some of our favourite childhood foods and drinks this weekend. Everything from foam bananas to panda cola we put the FMCG world to rights. Which got me thinking, some products and brands have really survived the test of time, either by tapping into the traditional and familiar or evolving and adapting with the times.
However in terms of products this is less easy than it seems. Changes in commodity prices, manufacturing technology enhancements even government legislation can all impact the products we see on the shelves, and the developers need to constantly manage and cope with these ever changing demands without alienating the people who love their products. This often means continual small product changes, which are monitored and checked by sensory panels and consumers to ensure the difference isn’t noticed. Discrimination testing, like triangle, duo-trio and more recently tetrad tests are all suitable for checking these differences to give product developers the most confidence possible when launching these adjusted version to market. However, there is still a risk, and with the rise in social media, the consumer voice is stronger than ever.
Whilst sites like Twitter and Facebook has allowed product manufacturers to communicate more directly with consumers, consumers can also talk back. This can highlight, emphasise and even magnify smaller product tweaks, and lead to scandals on the larger changes. Whilst previously product changes might be published in newspapers and even discussed on TV, the ever increasing world of social media can allow consumers to voice their anger and frustrations to the world, and the manufacturers themselves. This places more responsibility on product developers to communicate changes to consumers, which may not be ideal to the overall acceptance of the product and could even damage the brand.
Whilst products will always change overtime, a fine balance must be struck by developers to ensure consumers continue to trust and enjoy their offerings. Social media can play a fantastic role in connecting brands and consumers more directly, however this can lead to more challenges in future for developers that are keen to stay up to date and evolve.