What's keeping you up at night #4 - renovating and extending


July 05, 2017

by Mat Lintern

​Product renovation/reformulation is huge at the moment, and only going to get bigger – virtually all our clients face challenges with removing ‘baddies’ (and ideally adding ‘goodies’) to their food, drink and even household/personal care products.

There are lots of research approaches that can assist with making sure major mistakes aren’t made, and with MMR’s sensory and food science expertise we’re ideally placed to deliver these. But it’s not just about sensory matching, or ‘next best’ type decisions – we firmly believe renovation and reformulation research needs to delve deeper, and provide a much more holistic view on the potential impact on a brand.

Our Sensory Branding tools allow us to assess the impact on appeal/perceptions of the new product experience, but also to pick-up on subtle changes in the emotional and functional delivery as the formulation changes – this can (and has) proven vital in choosing the best option and in mitigating the ‘hidden’ risks associated with relatively small formulation changes.


This type of reformulation, if handled correctly, can also be a great opportunity to capitalize on positive PR; it’s a challenging area though and the right research is needed to understand which claims will be motivating, which are believable (an increasing issue in a world made more sceptical by media and social networking scrutiny) and, last but certainly not least, which work most effectively against the brand. The latter is often over-looked, but is increasingly important for long-standing brands, or those looking to build a purpose/meaning driven position. Too often we find that the sensory changes are looked at in isolation, when there’s the potential to use the right research tools to explore not just consumer reactions to sensorial changes, but blend this understanding with their reaction to potential claims, ensuring that any change can be assisted by communication designed to boost brand perceptions and reinforce core equities.

If you’re a large brand, why not take a lead in these difficult times; take the initiative and grasp the opportunity to take consumers on the journey with you - leverage the credibility and trust associated with leading brands to steal a march on those who have the same challenge to overcome but without the same degree of latent positivity as a starting point?

Line extensions have become the staple diet of many brand strategies over the last couple of decades, and there’s still plenty of room for these to work, as long as there’s a real consumer need and a positive brand related reason for extending. You’ll not be surprised to hear that we strongly believe Sensory Branding has a major role to play in deciding which extensions will have a long-term positive impact on the brand, and in helping ensure these are well executed to capitalize on the opportunity. But with our SURF approach, we also have a highly acclaimed way of predicting the impact on sales of any change to an established range. Simple to apply, this is a great tool for providing the confidence and flexibility required to effectively manage a brand’s product portfolio.

What's keeping you up at night? #1 - Cheaper, faster, better >

What's keeping you up at night? #2 - Developing products in a millennial world >

What's keeping you up at night? #3 - Repeatedly failing BASES >

What's keeping you up at night? #5 - Observation, implicit, in-the-moment

Mat Lintern is Global CEO at MMR Research Worldwide.