Page 4: Responding to the needs of the customer
The success of any new product depends very much on just how well its producer has understood and responded to the needs of the final customer. Cow & Gate is particularly well placed to be successful because the depth of the scientific research carried out at Numico laboratories supports the usual market research so effectively.
Developing any new product involves a number of steps. The first is to identify a need for a new product. It is common in most countries for mothers to start feeding cows’ milk to their infants too early. Growing medical research indicates that a fortified formula or breastfeeding plus vitamin/iron drops are more appropriate to meet the nutritional needs of infants towards the end of their first year and beyond. This has led to the Department of Health recommending that babies under one year of age should not be given cows’ milk because it is too low in iron and other important nutrients.
Through its ongoing dialogue with mothers, Cow & Gate knew that mothers who bottlefeed were keen to change feeding products as their infant’s needs changed and baby developed physically and mentally. In many instances cows’ milk was being introduced into babies’ diets before they reached one year of age. There was a clear need for an alternative to cows’ milk to deliver energy and nutrition in the latter stages of an infant’s first year and beyond.
Having identified a need, Numico commissioned scientific research to try to identify a solution to this nutritional problem. At the same time, Numico held detailed discussions with mothers to understand usage and attitudes towards formula and cows’ milk late in their infants first year. Having come up with a product formulation it was tested for nutritional quality and safety. Practicality of use of the product was also assessed and results of these tests were used to develop product usage instructions. Preparing the product for launching to the market also involved carrying out market research to find out:
- the ideal form of the product – this includes packaging design
- how best to position and promote it
- the most appropriate price
- where best to place the product eg supermarkets, chemists.
The end result of all this activity was Cow & Gate Next Steps.