How do you know whether your product is over or underperforming? You could compare it to past performance. Or you could compare the key metrics of your products against those of your closest market competitors. This process is known as product benchmarking, a vital task in the quest to gain valuable information about the quality of performance of your product.
Benchmarking food products can give you the opportunity to use critical, unbiased feedback to iterate recipes, change flavour profiles, and adopt presentational suggestions. But before we go into the many benefits of product benchmarking, let’s describe it to you in a little more detail.
Simply put; product benchmarking is the process of testing your products against those of your competitors, in order to find out where your product ranks in terms of consumer preference. You may also wish to carry out internal product benchmarking against old formulations when launching a new recipe to gather insights into how a new food product will be perceived.
There are numerous different product attributes that you may wish to secure benchmarks for, including but not limited to, sensory factors such as taste profiles, packaging, branding, and overall customer acceptance.
First and foremost, product benchmarking informs your company of the true performance and position of your product in your market segment. By gathering blind, unbiased consumer research, you can quickly identify strengths as well as urgently address weaknesses that are holding your products back.
But it’s not just about your products. The feedback will also expose the strengths and weaknesses of your nearest competitors. Regular product benchmarking will also alert you to competitor activity such as product reformulation as well as the potential threats posed by new entrants to your market.
Internal benchmarking can also highlight issues that would negatively impact the launch of an existing product with a new recipe or formulation process, giving you the chance to rectify any concerns before launching to the public.
Finally, if your product betters the competition during product benchmarking, you can approach new and existing customers to demonstrate that your product outperforms competitors. If appropriate, you could even use the results in marketing campaigns to end consumers.
Product benchmarking is most often carried out using central location test methodology. Representatives from your target consumer segment are recruited and attend a central, controlled environment that is prepared to ensure that the tested products are both prepared and delivered under identical conditions.
The consumers are then asked to evaluate the products via several detailed questions across a number of criteria including appearance, aroma, flavour, texture, taste, and overall product acceptance. The answers are then collated and analysed to understand if there are any statistically significant differences between products for each tested attribute.
You, as a company, can then use the results to address any critical areas of concern, or use the positive attributes data to win over retailers and other key clients and increase sales.
Here at Wirral Sensory Services, we’ve been carrying out unbiased consumer research (including product benchmarking) for over two decades. We serve the food, beverage, and household product industries and offer a bespoke service to our clients.
When benchmarking food, our research is always designed to meet your timescales, budget, and objectives. We don’t view our projects as standalone pieces of consumer research. Instead, we view them as the start of an ongoing business partnership to help you deliver the best possible consumer products.
So, whether you are a start-up company looking to break into a national retailer, or you’re a well-established brand looking to evaluate a range of new concepts, our high-quality and robust consumer research can help your business.