Product innovation in retail with Neil Nugent – Innovate podcast

Product Innovation in Retail with Neil Nugent – Innovate Podcast

The Innovate Podcast is a biweekly series of discussions with CPG Innovation experts, on how to innovate with success in an ever-changing world.

In the fifth episode, our host Vypr Founder Ben Davies was joined by Panku Foods Founder, Neil Nugent. Ben and Neil discussed innovation in the industry, including how retailers can adopt quick insights and technology to reach success.

Listen to the full episode using the links below, and don’t forget to subscribe so you never miss an episode.

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Read some highlights below.

Through the episode, Neil discussed ways retailers can improve the way they currently innovate. Though rating the sector highly for its impact and variety on-shelves, there are some things the industry needs to do to fuel more success, as we summarise below.


A need to be more innovative

When evaluating what the sector could do better, Neil thought that products should focus on being unique and innovative, especially from an own-brand product perspective, as ranges are starting to look similar. Neil gave Iceland’s innovative approach as an example. Watch the full episode using the links above to find out more.

“If talking specifically about own brand side of things… it’s just got a little bit stuck… I think own brands have certainly lost a bit of that spirit of being a bit different, they’re all starting to look the same.”

However, an innovative approach should also consider the shifting climate we’re in. Read more on this below.


A need to adapt to changing times

Neil discussed how the climate has changed, especially the fact that there is now much more competition compared to much earlier in his career.

“Going back it was a bit different 20 years ago, there were less shops, less risk, you could try stuff, the pressure on suppliers was less so you could be launching stuff to see if it worked or you might try a hundred shops, whereas now the suppliers can’t afford to do that, the retailers can’t afford to do that, so you have to make sure if you do launch something it is going to add value and give you sales.”

With this constantly shifting industry, new product launches should aim to reduce concerns present at the time. For example, in the current cost of living crisis, it is essential to prove that products will resonate with consumers to ensure they convince stakeholders that they’re worth a space on shelves. This can be done by incorporating more consumer insight into the development process, as we’ll discover more on below.

“You have to have a bit more insight now before you launch something.”


A need for better, quicker process

The innovation process, according to Neil, takes too long and has remained mostly unchanged through the years.

This is an issue especially when it comes to keeping on top of trends, as many teams end up missing the boat with new launches due to this lack of speed. Even if companies spot a growing trend in good time, the speed of the innovation process often means that once the product finally launches, it’s no longer relevant.

“It really takes too long in the majority of retailers, and usually when you’ve spotted a trend and then you start to try and deliver it and it hits a store 6, 9 months later it’s too late.”

Neil also identified that the bigger retailers have too much hierarchy and sign off process internally, which also adds to delay launches. By adding more insight into the process, companies can avoid the issue of the opinion of many dictating decisions, and instead make evidence-based decisions on consumer feedback.

Ultimately, improving the process with more speed and less subjectivity, will lead to more innovation success.

“If a retailer can slim down a process… use quick insights, quick validation processes to make sure they’re on the right track, I think you can do things quickly if everybody wants to.”


By improving we can get to a future of success

Improving on the above points will lead to a future where innovation succeeds. That means targeted innovation, optimised for the current climate, with a forward-looking approach and more efficient process.

Like our other Podcast guests, Neil mentioned a better use of technology (such as platforms that provide quick insight) as a way to improve innovation outcomes for the future. Increasing efficiency also allows teams to respond more quickly and adapt to a constantly changing climate much more easily.

“I think retailers will need to be super quick, super responsive, and I think it’s going to be really exciting in the next couple of years… the process has to be much quicker, we can use technology to help us make really clever decisions about what we’re doing next, and what to focus on next.”


All in all, by improving process, there is plenty of opportunity to learn and transform the world of innovation, as we discovered in this episode.

In the full episode, Neil also discusses:

  • The impact of social media on trends
  • An inside perspective on retailer innovation processes
  • The importance of building strong relationships with suppliers


Want to get all the insights? Listen to the full podcast on-demand. Click the links below to listen on your preferred platform.

Listen on Podbean, Listen on iTunes or Watch on YouTube