Page 1: Introduction
In the modern world, many consumers have opportunities to buy and use an ever-increasing range of goods and services. Firms continually develop new products which, more often than not, improve on those already available. The most innovative businesses will continually seek out new opportunities for product development with a view to satisfying consumer needs, improving human welfare and keeping the company strong. This is very true of the nutrition industry, where innovative solutions are required to meet nutritional needs and offer health benefits. Often these problems and needs involve the most vulnerable sections of the community eg the very young and people with long term health problems.
In developing new products, it is important to identify ways of meeting real consumer needs. Firms that supply the needs of the nutrition market know that, in order to succeed, they must offer products that are demonstrably beneficial at prices that consumers (which includes hospitals etc) can afford. This case study focuses on the way in which one of the world’s leading nutrition companies used a science-based research approach to develop a healthy milk product for babies and toddlers aged between 6 and 24 months that rapidly created a new market segment.
The product, Next Steps, is made by Cow & Gate. It is a milk for babies over 6 months for use as part of a mixed diet. It is not a substitute for breastfeeding, which Cow & Gate believes is best for babies. Next Steps contains valuable energy, plus the minerals and vitamins such as iron and vitamin D that cows’ milk cannot provide in the right balance to meet the growing needs of the child.
Numico and Cow & Gate
In many industrial sectors, there has been a tendency in recent years for companies to merge to form a bigger grouping. In the nutrition industry, large companies often control a number of related businesses with linked sets of products. In many instances, a large company has purchased another company and, in doing so, has become the owner of famous brand names that it can develop. Numico is a very large company whose shares are traded on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. This case study focuses on Cow & Gate, which is a well-known brand of one of Numico’s subsidiary companies.
Numico provides nutritional products to meet a variety of needs. They are used by different groups of consumers, including:
- infants and toddlers
- people with specialised nutrition needs
- health-conscious adults looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle through using nutritional supplements.
In Europe, Numico is the market leader in infant nutrition with a very extensive product range. Cow & Gate is a familiar brand name to many mothers, because of the leading role that the company and its products have played in infant feeding over many years.