By infusing customer feedback at every stage of the innovation pipeline, Keurig Canada exceeded sales forecast by 42% and reduced project timelines by 3 weeks.
In a recent webinar, Keurig Canada consumer insights analyst Eileen Chen shared how the company is maintaining leadership in the single-serve coffee maker market—a space that's becoming more saturated as competition grows and customer expectations increase. According to Chen, the company leverages customer relationships to get the insight required to deliver successful products in the market.
Growth took off for Keurig Canada in 2011, said Chen, and now one-fifth of Canadian households have one of their single-serve coffee makers. But to keep up in the crowded market, she said the company’s challenge is to find new pain points to solve. Keurig needs to innovate faster without cannibalizing its existing market as it battles for shelf space.
Adopt tools that keep up with the pace of product development
To get more insight, Chen said Keurig Canada is always looking at new ways to get closer to customers. The Keurig Coffee Insiders Community lets them tap into what consumers are thirsting for. Unlike ad hoc surveys, which are too expensive and too time consuming, Keurig’s insight community keeps up with the pace of the market and the pace at which Keurig needs to innovate.
"The deeper we dig, the more we uncover these golden nuggets of information, and all of these translate into opportunities."
Involve your customers in every step of innovation pipeline
Chen said Keurig uses its insight community to get feedback on every aspect of its products, from the initial idea—what accessories it should make, for example—and concept testing—what’s the interest in a product at a certain price—to packaging and distribution.
"The real benefit of an insight community, especially for a CPG company, is with our innovation across the whole pipeline."
Take an iterative approach to product development
The insight community also enables Keurig Canada to be very iterative, said Chen. In some cases, the company has done four rounds of feedback for a single project. Better still, the response rates are higher—as much as 75%—when Keurig takes this iterative approach, and it shows the benefits to both the customer and the company of this unique approach.
The Keurig milk frother is an excellent of this iterative approach to the innovation pipeline, she said, which was tested first with the insight community. Further insight after launch found Keurig did indeed solve the pain point customers had making a latte.
"Over the few months we’ve see that the product has gone over forecast by 42%… and the reviews are 4.3 starts out of five."
Validate your idea
The Keurig milk frother is also an example of how an insight community helped the company validate an idea first rather than letting the market decide after it was launched. Chen said the syndicated data showed there was a growing market for milk-based beverages. The company wanted to validate that with the insight community, and coffee fanatics gave Keurig a "resounding yes." The company then engaged customers as it developed the product and the go-to-marketing strategy to launch it to market.
Customers have also helped Keurig avoid introducing products that would have failed, such as a cold brew.
"We see a lot of members coming back especially once products have launched on shelves, and they’re telling us, 'Wow, I see the impact of my survey responses on shelves.'"
Work with your retail partners
But customers are not the only stakeholders. Keurig is heavily dependent on its retail partners for success. A key question for members when they join the insight community is where they buy their Keurig K-Cup pods. The company can test specific product ideas for specific retailers and deliver data-driven recommendations to its partners, said Chen.
"We’ve been able to deliver a lot of unique benefits through our insight community."
Sometimes assumptions are wrong
Chen said the insight community often challenges Keurig’s assumptions, which prompts it to interrogate its data as much as possible. Ultimately, this lets Keurig take advantage of what real people are saying.
The payoff of developing stronger relationship with coffee fanatics is big for the company. Chen estimates that the company saves 3 weeks for each product launch by reducing research time. In the first 10 months of the community, Keurig also already saved $831,000 in research costs.