Innovating at the speed of a startup

A fast-growing segment. A workable product concept. The big question for Spindrift: how to launch an innovation that would land fruitfully on store shelves.
02 June 2021
Fruit in water
Catherine Knotts

Senior Director, Client Leadership

Tyler Krug

Director, Client Leadership

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Beverage brand Spindrift’s loyal customers, known as its ‘Drifter community’, are at the heart of everything it does. This means that quality consumer insights are of tremendous importance. But so is speed – the company needs to move at a startup’s pace to stay competitive.

While Spindrift had never done any formal innovation testing, the brand recognised that properly evaluating the product concept with consumers would provide the validation the company needed to gauge interest and sales potential. Using ConceptEvaluate on Kantar Marketplace, Spindrift was able to optimise the new beverage concept while still meeting aggressive timelines to get to market.

Finding an innovation concept that fizzed

Spindrift has a singular focus on using a few simple ingredients, with real fruit playing the starring role in its flavoured sparkling water. It had found an exciting opportunity to extend its product line in a novel direction that was already being pursued by several large global beverage brands.

The team needed a gut check on whether this was a category Spindrift could play in. Did it have the credibility to enter the space? Which of the three concepts developed would be most likely to generate appeal and interest?

Spindrift also had an eye on the long game. It was looking for a better, more systematic way of incorporating consumer insights into its ongoing product development processes – one that would combine rigour of market research with the agility the business demanded.

Having worked closely with Kantar on brand equity research, the Spindrift team was keen to expand the relationship into a new direction, and explore how Kantar Marketplace could deliver the insights required to confirm if the concept could drive growth.

Insights delivered at speed

The concept test brought Spindrift the information needed to understand the potential of the product line extension in less than half the time – with just a few days from approval of the study to results being ready. These provided the team with a clear view of which concepts resonated with consumers.

“The speed of execution and communication throughout was great – we move at a start-up’s pace and anything slower would not be useful” said Sue Kim, Vice President Brand Strategy and Market Insights at Spindrift.

The results of the concept test also highlighted potential optimisations Spindrift could make to enhance the success of the launch. This included perfecting the language used to talk about the product, foregrounding the words and phrases that had proved most engaging for consumers.

Building the brand

Of course, every decision made around innovation and new product development should ultimately strengthen the brand. In Spindrift’s case, the team was able to enrich the concept testing results with the insights previously gained through its brand equity research. Drawing upon these insights when entering into conversations about the new product ensured that all decisions made would serve to grow the brand.

Being a complete newcomer to formal innovation testing, the Spindrift team appreciated the speed at which Kantar Marketplace provided high-quality consumer insights that could both inform a successful launch and drive long-term brand growth.

As a result, Spindrift has now launched four varieties of its new product in two key US markets before rolling the range out more widely.

Spindrift’s learnings from their transition to a more systematic concept testing approach emphasise the importance of putting consumers in the driving seat when evaluating the commercial potential of a new product. They also underscore the power of combining agile concept testing with brand research. For Spindrift, concept testing was a win-win: the brand gained the confidence they needed to move ahead with production, at the speed the business demanded.

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