In developing great, new products for their customers, companies often fall in what Larry Selden and Ian C. MacMillan (Harvard Business Review) called the “Growth Gap“: failing to identify real trends and customer wants/needs during a Research and Development project. They argue, in summary, that falling in the “Growth Gap” is similar to throwing money at your R&D team while totally ignoring your customers (and, ultimately, your share-holders).
In the competitive area of food production, nothing could be more true. In fact, most people involved in creating great food and beverage products to the market have, at some point in their career, met this challenge. As thousands of different products compete for a share of the consumers’ taste buds and wallet, Innovation, Research and Development and meaningful Novelty take a new importance for any company striving to bring anything to the table. In this context, it becomes crucial that Research & Development efforts are aligned with the latest trends in consumer taste.
The International Taste & Quality Institute was founded with this idea in mind: helping great food and drink producers get expert knowledge from the people that are best qualified and positioned to associate taste trends and characteristics with what consumers like. Combining their customer’s feedback with their knowledge and experience, iTQi’s Chefs and Sommeliers are able to give a supported opinion on any product’s taste. The combination of many of these feedbacks can then be used to improve the participating products in a direction that will certainly meet its market’s needs.
The challenge of the “Growth Gap” has been around as long as businesses themselves have had to adapt to changing market conditions. Today, solutions exist to close this gap by listening to the organisation’s customers or to people that know them well. And it’s the organisation’s that listen best that will, ultimately, perform best.
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