Innovative product concept testing

The company is a leading jute products manufacturer in India with a wide range of products. The jute industry is mostly oriented toward producing traditional products, such as packaging materials.

Some of the more progressive jute mills have begun foraying into diversified jute-based products, such as floor carpets, home textiles, technical textiles, hand bags, handicrafts, fashion accessories and apparel, to improve margin realizations.

The first, most critical, step was to understand the response of key stakeholders to the product, its features and its benefits.

The company has been at the forefront of developing such innovative diversified jute-based products and has identified the following emerging application areas:

  • Urban landscaping: applications of soil protection and slope stabilization
  • Mine reclamation: prevention of slope failures in overburdened dumps and backfilled areas across mines
  • Solid waste  management: layers of separation and top cover in scientific landfill construction and landfill closures
  • Automotives: jute-based composites in interior components

To understand the market potential and stakeholder acceptance for such diversified products in the above emerging applications, an extensive market assessment including new product concept testing was carried out. Product concept notes (PCNs), which captured the typical challenges, product technical specifications, case studies of application and their results and benefits, were prepared jointly with the company. Select product samples of woven, open-weave and non-woven jute geotextiles were manufactured by the company.

An extensive list of key stakeholders (approximately 150 in number) across the four application areas was drawn up as market respondents for the product concept testing exercise, covering most of the Tier-I and some Tier-II cities in India. For the automotives segment, respondents from Europe, including Germany, were also chosen.

The process of product concept and experimentation testing involved understanding the market size for the application area aided by a structured questionnaire, making the respondent aware of the new product, using the PCN and product samples and highlighting the benefits of using a natural fiber-based product and its green impact on the environment and society. Subsequently, the market research questionnaire captured the respondents’ views on how useful the product might be in the application and what could be the potential challenges to adopting the product.

All market responses were collated for statistical analysis to present the insights obtained from the market and allow the company to further re-engineer its products and prepare its go-to-market strategy.

The complete article was written by:

  • Rajib Maitra
    Manager, Performance Improvement, Ernst & Young, India
  • Subhajit Mazumder
    Senior Consultant, Performance Improvement, Ernst & Young, India

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