According to the consulting firm Nielsen, the level of innovation has fallen by 31% in Spain during the year of the pandemic, compared to the 19% decrease in the five main countries of the European Union.
The pandemic halts the appearance of new innovative products in supermarkets
The coronavirus pandemic has given the finishing touch to the appearance of new products on the shelves of distribution chains. This week, the general director of NielsenIQ for Southern Europe, Patricia Daimiel, warned about this during her participation in the 26th Aecoc Congress of Commercial Strategy and Marketing.
"Innovation has been the great forgotten in these months. Much has been said about prices, assortment ... but not innovation," she lamented. The pandemic has increased the demand of the mass consumer market within the home, which has caused a delay in the entry of new products to the market.
Given the large increase in consumer demand, especially at times marked by strict containment measures, the distribution prioritized having product available on the shelves.
"We have been in survival mode, the priority was safety and the rest was secondary," he says in conversation with El Independiente Laureano Turienzo, president and founder of the Spanish Retail Association.
Although precisely the pandemic and the new needs arising from it also represent a window of opportunity for companies to bring new products to the market.
But Daimiel warned of the need to rethink which innovation strategy to apply, as a bad decision can lead to great costs. "Many innovations can cannibalize up to 25% of the parent brand," she said.
For his part, Alfonso Sebastián, co-founder and vice president of the Spanish Retail Association (AER) remarks in conversation with this newspaper that the lack of innovation on the part of the mass consumer industry “is not something that has been caused by the pandemic , but has accumulated a progressive decline for the last ten years."
According to data from the consulting firm Nielsen, the level of innovation has fallen by 31% in Spain during the year of the pandemic, compared to the 19% decrease in the five main countries of the European Union.
In this sense, recent data from the ‘Radar of Innovation 2020’ study carried out by the consulting firm Kantar show a drop of 44% between 2010 and the first year marked by the pandemic.
For its part, the first data from the sixth barometer ‘Consumption and shopping inside and outside the home after COVID 19’, carried out by the Aecoc association reflect that there are more and more consumers who ask to find innovative items on the shelves.
And 29% say that at the moment they find fewer new products, while 25% say that they cannot find articles suitable for the new needs derived from the health crisis.
In any case, OEM manufacturer brands are the ones who continue to bet on bringing new products to the shelves, while distribution brands do so to an almost testimonial measure. Specifically, 98% of the producers, compared to 2% of the chains.
Little presence in some retailers
Also, brands complain that their presence in some distribution chains is too low. According to the aforementioned report, Mercadona references 7% of the innovative products of the OEM manufacturer's brands, while Aldi and Lidl 8% and 10%, respectively. DIA is the chain that incorporates the fewest innovations, with 3%.
On the contrary, Carrefour (67%), Alcampo (36%), Eroski (31%) and El Corte Inglés (30%) are the supermarkets with the highest levels of new products on their shelves. "I believe that the downward trend is going to continue," adds Sebastián.
On the forecasts of mass consumption for the end of the year, the sector will close the year with a growth of 1.4% over 2020 sales, according to the consulting firm Nielsen. Although everything will depend on the control of the pandemic and the situation of mobility and tourism this summer.
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