New Products: The Development Process
In case you haven’t heard, we recently launched our A/W 2017-18 collection, which means FIVE new products, a new product range and an updated granola to make our entire breakfast range vegan. We also lowered our prices a little based on the feedback from you guys, and (naturally) extended our shelf life by an extra day on some products. Exciting, huh?!
Don’t worry though, this isn’t just another sales-esque email about how great the products are (we always try to keep that stuff to a minimum… if you’ve tried our products then you’ll know they speak for themselves). Instead we wanted to give you a little insight into how exactly our products are made. Getting a sneak peak into the brains of a brand is always pretty interesting (at least we think so anyway) and at least for us, the process behind creating a product is so interesting that we like to think you can benefit from it - whether it’s pure curiosity or helping you in your own endeavours.
TIMING IT RIGHT
First things first, what actually sparks the action of ‘lets bring out new products’? There’s many things actually, but no.1 is probably down to the amount of ideas we want to share. If you’re anything like us, you may have quite often wondered why companies have such limited product ranges when the flavour options are endless (anyone else spend their supermarket trips coming up with new ice cream ideas, or biscuit flavours?). Us too - and if it wasn’t for the restrictions of capacity we would probably launch new products every month, but a kitchen team of 7 making 16 products daily is already a pretty big ask… That said, our heads are brimming with product ideas, which is why we’ve swayed towards the model of replacing products twice a year with improved recipes, or totally new concepts.
Away from the ‘because we want to’, there’s also a whole side to product development that’s pretty much as crazy as the fashion industry’s schedule, and something we’re still getting our heads around. Take Christmas for example, around October we start to think how we’d love to have our mince pies or spiced brownies on the shelves for Christmas, but actually, that would’ve meant product development should have started in January, ready for production in April, PR events and sales meetings in July, following by store launch in November. So basically just as Christmas ends, it starts again for product development (we’ll nail it next year though, promise).
So we know when we need to start planning, how do we start? Our process is probably a little backwards compared to others, but that’s exactly how we like it. Instead of going straight to the kitchen, we start with the nutrition. We keep a close eye on upcoming trends and points of interest in the wellness and beauty sectors (looking at forward thinking beauty brands is a great way to see what is going to translate over into food!), and our naturopath combines this with her own research, interest and knowledge to put together a list of ‘themes’ along with the ingredients we can use to align with this. Take our new Daal Pot for example, the idea behind this was based around Ayurveda, so our list of ingredients to use included spices such as asafoetida, fenugreek and turmeric, as well as red lentils, all of which are typical in Indian culture and provide a benefits for the digestive system, as well as a source of protein from the lentils. This was then passed on to our kitchen team who use them as a base, combining with complementary ingredients. Our naturopath then analyses this and approves it or makes changes to form a complete meal.
Ideas approved, we then look into food costs, and try to source the ingredients at the best price possible, at a quality level we’re happy with (e.g. the highest quality). Sometimes we then make further changes such as in our Immunity Box - we were unable to find cranberries that weren’t soaked in sugar or fruit juice, so we swapped the recipe to use barberries. This is also where we worked on bringing the costs down - we’ll never change the quality of our ingredients because then we’d be making a product that we’re not happy to eat (and what’s the point in that?!) so we instead look at buying in higher quantities to keep costs down… economies of scale is a great thing, and we love that we can pass the savings on directly to you.
We then have to mass-scale the recipe. We design to one portion sizing, then work on scaling this up to create a recipe for 100+ portions, taste testing a lot along the way to make sure it’s still just as good. A lot of this is then sent out for shelf life testing and as samples for the stores we work with, but the leftovers usually makes its way to staff lunch… always the best part of the process!
ADDING NEW RANGES
You’ll have noticed that we recently removed our savoury pots and added hot pots instead. Why? A lot of this comes down to customer research… What isn’t selling that well? What have people said on social media? What was the reaction to the idea in our community feedback group? Whilst the idea for a hot pot came about after realising we were all craving hot options in the office last winter, the final say will always be with you guys. And if you want a bit more of an input, then you can sign up for our community email HERE. We already have plans for new sweet treats as well as new products for 2018 underway so there’s a lot to get involved in!
MAKING IT LEGAL
The fun bit… (and the bit nobody tells you about). We’ve created this awesome product based on Ayurveda, or probiotics, or alkaline and it includes all of these amazing ingredients which help to calm your adrenals, or support detoxification or increase your energy and concentration, and of course we want to shout about it. Except we’re not allowed, and we’re still very much learning about what we can and cannot say. We won’t fully divulge into it, but if it’s not in the list of approved quotes (e.g. ’Vitamin B6 contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism’…) then we won’t be saying it. Partly good because it also means other companies can’t make crazy claims, but seriously can they please do some more research into probiotics or turmeric soon?! Once our packaging is approved (cue mild panic whilst we wait), it’s off to print ready to hit the shelves!