April Preston Interview: Steal Greater Competitive Advantage By Improving Your NPD

April Preston (Executive Head of Food Innovation at Harrods) shares her perspective on how VYPR is helping businesses to speed up the NPD process, optimise success rates and increase sales from applying greater intelligence to FMCG NPD and innovation to steal competitive advantage.

“In my view, one of the biggest challenges facing FMCG is the NPD and innovation process; it’s just too slow. There are too many people involved, the process can be governed too much by subjective decision-making and we still don’t genuinely put the consumer at the heart of what we do daily. You’ve just got to look at how the communications and automotive industries have transformed themselves in the last 15 years and compare that to the humble ready meal: it has barely changed in the same timeframe!

Yet, we have access to so much data now: we’ve got EPOS data, qualitative and quantitative research coming out of our ears. So, what’s wrong? For me, we still don’t truly understand what consumers are thinking when they pick up a product in store. What is going through their mind? That gap in understanding has paralysed the industry in many ways: people are so afraid to take risks, which is understandable when the investment required can be so high.

The beauty of VYPR is that it really unlocks our understanding of that subconscious thinking and shopper behaviour, which means you get fantastically robust results. VYPR makes you feel more secure about the decisions you’re making in the NPD process, because you can better predict success rates and better optimise for sales by tapping into the minds of consumers, enabling you to stand up to scrutiny from your commercial stakeholders and investors; giving everyone reassurance and the confidence to push things further and take a few more risks, which is really what we need as an industry.

I find VYPR works most effectively at various stages in the process, but ultimately it works best when you want to test lots of different alternatives for an idea that you’ve had or refine key elements of the product in the later stages, whether you’re a great big retailing organisation or a small brand. I’ve used it in both instances with equal success.

The immediacy of VYPR is amazing: it is quick, easy and simple to use and you can weave it into any existing NPD/innovation process. The results come back very quickly and are easy to understand. I also love the fact that it is unlimited: no matter how many ideas we have as a team, we can test them all. There is so much complexity beneath the surface – the technology, data and behavioural science – but, as a user, you benefit from the results without getting bogged down in the detail.

VYPR has made a big difference to how we work: we’re making better decisions, we’re putting the customer at the heart of what we do and it has brought objectivity to the process. Ultimately, that leads to better relationships with customers, retailers and a greater return on investment throughout the NPD process.”

April Preston is Executive Head of Food Innovation at Harrods and has held leadership positions in businesses such as M&S and Two Sisters.


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