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Introducing New Consumer Products in a Highly Competitive Market

Case Study Project Description

This company used recycled newsprint to create a number of different pet care products. They had gotten good results in the specialty pet area with their small animal (gerbils, rabbits etc.) bedding and had a large distribution network in this marketplace. There were no major competitors in this market that could provide an odor-free solution at the time.

They wanted to get their second cat litter product made from wood/pulp waste that looks and feels like clay into distribution. It could be flushed down the toilet instead of having to be thrown out with the garbage. The product lacked a positioning statement next to the clumping litters and clay litters, a brand name, and the right kind of packaging.

The third product was a ‘wonder’ towel that absorbed grease, oil, paint and water on one layer and wouldn’t leak it to the next towel. It could be used over and over again without decay or tearing. They needed to define this product’s ideal positioning, target market and distribution system and then package or market this item without a lot of expense.

Project Problem

Absorption Corp. needed to do more research into the buying habits of discounters like Wal-Mart and the Pet Care industry to provide them with some recommendations and a focus to determine if this was a worthwhile investment for their shareholders. Lorraine Rieger recommended a step by step plan that took them through the product research phase through to a product launch strategy if the primary investigative research proved that the product was viable.

Solution

At issue is whether there was room in the market for another slightly different product and what aspects of the product would have to be the most appealing for vendors to create the space, i.e. high margins and/or the latest and greatest development in cat litter. Lorraine accessed grocery store research on the topic and suggested that the company sponsor a local cat show by offering to be the supplier of the cat litter. They surveyed the attendees at the end of the show to see how their felines responded to their new litter. We set up independent testing to ensure it was truly a flushable litter.

From this research, we selected the best targets based on financial analysis and a developed a new pricing system. The products were all positioned as premium solutions that met user needs and serviced the “green” market as a better substitute for traditional litters. The towel fit many markets and separate branding identities for each were developed for automotive, consumer and industrial use. Each product gained 90 day trials in grocery and other consumer stores as well as with industrial distributors. We recommended packaging improvements for ease of handling and included the absorbent towel in the kitty litter as a pan liner.

Result

The first kitty litter product did not receive good reviews at the cat shows, technical tests and from user feedback surveys. The company re-engineered the identified problems and re-issued the products. Today the company has seven different pet litter products and five different markets for its absorbent towel product all of which achieved national distribution. They have become a significant buyer of the country’s wood waste.