It’s pretty common knowledge in the CPG industry that American consumers buy the same products over and over again. So, it kind of makes you wonder why so many people start down the path of new product development–if consumers routinely buy the same products, are buyers even interested in sourcing new ones?

There’s a simple answer and a not-so-simple answer to that question.

The simple answer is yes. Buyers are definitely interested in new products, for the fact that as much as we like our friendly, familiar products, there are often times when we want to break out of our routine, step out of our comfort zones, and reach for something new.“A buyer’s ultimate goal is to keep consumers coming back for more–whether that ‘more’ is ‘more of the same’ or ‘more bells and whistles.'”

The not-so-simple answer is that yes, buyers are still on the hunt for new products…but often only if the product has a Six-Million-Dollar-Man quality to it. Meaning, is it a bigger, better, faster, stronger product than what they already have in their mix?

A buyer’s ultimate goal is to keep consumers coming back for more–whether that “more” is “more of the same” or “more bells and whistles.” A good buyer wants to go beyond the former and reach for the latter–keep consumers coming back for repeat purchases, but ultimately keep them interested in the store (or website!) as a whole, with new products that catch their eye and make them think twice about the rote products in their baskets.

That said, to even make it into the buyer’s periphery, let alone onto the shelf, these days means new products really have to stand out in the sea of CPG.

Buyer's Mindset

As a supplier, can you put yourself in the buyer’s mindset? Can you give yourself a new perspective on your creation? It’s hard, and can be something that so many people lose sight of when you’re in the eye of your own hurricane.. You’re so involved in your own product from your point of view, you forget to see how others may view it. And when you’re starting out, you set yourself up for failure if you forget to include the buyer in that point of view.

In a buyer’s mindset, you have to remember that one of the driving forces behind what catches their eye is the product itself. A new product means a new option, which means a new opportunity to wow consumers and intrigue them. Simply put, the best part of sourcing new products, is the product!

“As a supplier, can you put yourself in the buyer’s mindset? Can you give yourself a new perspective on your creation?”

However, no matter how much excitement the product itself might generate, a buyer does have to keep in mind not only the goals for the consumer, but the retailer, too. As the supplier, you might not know the retailer’s financial or physical constraints to bringing in a new product. In other words, can they afford the risk of giving a new product shelf space? While the buyer may not have a concrete answer for that question, they know the limitations, and know that while a new product might be ideal for consumers, it might not be ideal for their store. While that might be a hard pill for suppliers to swallow, it’s nothing personal, really; it’s that a buyer has to walk that fine line between consumer and retailer.

It’s the buyer’s job, then, to really study new products and evaluate not only how they will play with consumers, but also how they will play with the rest of their product mix. The right product could mean a long and happy relationship, and the wrong one, well, it could take up a lot of undue shelf space.

So, what do suppliers need to know when trying to read a buyer’s mind and understand what makes them pluck a new product from the mix? All I’ll say is have your trusty No. 2 pencil ready for my next post’s multiple-choice quiz to find the answer…

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