why now is the ideal time to innovate

by: Andrew Turner

As we write to you from our kitchen tables and home ‘offices’, it seems like an understatement to say that our worlds have changed dramatically in the past month. Purchase behaviours and attitudes are changing each week. People have switched brands and tried new products, both willingly and out of necessity as the demand for everyday staples has soared.

Although it may be tempting to slash innovation budgets, the reality is that 56% of people have said that this is a good time to try new products and brands. Huh. Sounds like a critical opportunity for brands (big and small!) to continue to innovate, test and drive trial in this unique time. But where to start? We’ve narrowed down three key approaches that will help you get your product in front of consumers sooner.




Driving repeat purchase is just a parcel away.

If it can be done from home right now, then it can be done. In-home product tests (otherwise known as IHUTs) are the perfect opportunity to innovate, renovate, or benchmark based on consumer feedback, without having to spend the time and effort to go to market. With brand trial and category experimentation at an all-time high, there’s an opportunity to see where we stand and how we perform, whether that’s with a new product or an ‘old faithful’.

Put simply, in home is the greatest ‘contactless’ testing opportunity for products right now:

  1. We recruit consumers online.
  2. We dispatch products to consumer households or parcel lockers.
  3. And we collect responses through online surveys, from the comfort of each participants home.

Most of all, IHUTs give us the chance to put a product through its paces in a ‘real’ environment: on their own stove, with their own family, using their own embellishments. At the end of the day, a good ad may drive trial but a good product (which is proven to work at home) drives repeat purchase!


woman opening in-home product test

Use online conversations to convert consumers (and your wider team!)

Much like traditional product clinics, online qual and online product clinics are a surefire way to drive trial while better understanding the motivations and needs of your consumer. In fact, your consumers now have a whole new set of needs and challenges to solve.  

Using online communities, our PLAY experts can facilitate conversations, probe for ideas and uncover consumer-approved solutions in a matter of days. You can check out the online communities in action too. What better way to learn more about your own product than straight from your audience’s fingertips?

With expert coordination, consumers can also be sent products to test as part of their qualitative discussions, allowing them to share their experiences and ideas in a highly visual way. Even better, consumers can share images and videos of their own pantries, plates, and homes to bring the stories to life. This kind of approach not only informs concept and product development, but also engages the brand and marketing teams with real-life stories from everyday consumers!


And when the time is right, the CLT awaits.

Whilst we have an abundance of options to keep our innovation and renovation pipelines moving forward in the current ‘COVID-climate’ there is still a time and a place (in the hopefully-not-too-distant-future) for Central Location Tests (CLTs) in our cutting edge facilities. Few approaches are more powerful in the final stages of product refinement to thoroughly test a product launch, relaunch or reformulation.

The control of a Central Location Test means that technical guidance can be provided around products to help bring us closer to an ideal proposition. Whether that’s refining a new product formulation, optimising an existing product, or specifically benchmarking ourselves against category competitors, we will be ready to rigorously assess products when it is safe and sensible to do so.


It’s more important than ever to continue innovating.

If we’re honest, the consumer landscape has radically changed in the past month, and what may have worked before might no longer do the job. Different brands and categories may have been trialled and if your product is not yet on the list, this is your opportunity to change that.

The impact this has on consumer expectations is yet to be truly defined so in the meantime, we can prepare for this new future together and keep your product in your consumer’s cart. To get started today, register for your FREE consultation below or you can reach us on 02 8097 0200 or hello@playmr.com.au.


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about the author

Andrew Turner

As PLAY’s Associate Director, nothing pleases Andrew more than getting to the “Why” of people’s claimed behaviour. With a background in Social Psychology and a 16-year research career spanning FMCG, services and social territories, his key belief in any project is to "tell you what you need to know, not just what you want to hear". Aside from being our sensory expert, Andrew is an avid foodie and loves to wet a line at the nearest stretch of water. He’s also a musician, having once been the lead singer in a metal band.

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