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NEW YORK — New research indicates consumers in the United States are not as fast to adopt new products as their counterparts in developing markets.
According to the Nielsen Global Survey on new product innovation, more than half of respondents in Asia-Pacific (69 percent), Africa/Middle East (57 percent) and Latin America (56 percent) say they purchased a new product during their last grocery shopping trip, outpacing the 44 percent of European and 31 percent of North American respondents who said so.
In addition, the study found that nine of the 11 markets with the highest percentage of early adopters are developing countries: Brazil (39 percent); Peru and Israel (both at 30 percent); Colombia, India, Latvia and South Africa (tied at 28 percent); Bulgaria and Serbia (27 percent each); and Croatia and Romania (both at 26 percent).
"Developing countries can be attractive markets for new product expansion efforts due to their younger demographic composition, rising middle-class population and strong appetite for 'affordable luxuries,'" said Rob Wengel, senior vice president and managing director of Nielsen Innovation in the U.S. "But developing-market consumer needs, standards and expectations can vary dramatically from those in more mature markets, and finding the right mix takes a market-by-market approach."
Globally, the fight for the consumer's attention has heated up and brand competition has become intense as shelves become more crowded. The vast majority of new product introductions are taken out of distribution before the end of their launch year, according to the research firm.
"New product failure rates are extremely high, but success is no fluke," said Johan Sjöstrand, senior vice president and managing director of Nielsen Innovation in Europe. "Success is not simply the result of luck or even genius. Rather, successful product launches are the culmination of organizational focus and commitment to product development, creative marketing, smart leadership and, above all else, an in-depth understanding of what drives consumer preferences."
The study found the most commonly used source to learn about new products is reliance on friends and family (cited by 56 percent of global respondents), followed by viewing television ads (52 percent) and seeing it in a store (48 percent).
Internet-related platforms make up four of the top nine sources cited for new product discovery: using active Internet search (44 percent); social media postings and Internet ads (both at 26 percent); and brand/manufacturer web pages (25 percent). Receiving a free sample and newspaper/magazines were the other top sources cited.
While the list of top sources combines paid, owned and earned media options, reliance on social media showed the largest increase, rising 11 percentage points from 2012. Social media usage for new product discovery is particularly high in Africa/Middle East (34 percent) and Latin America (31 percent), compared to 20 percent of European and 22 percent of North America respondents.
The study also discovered that new products appeal to all generations, not just millennials. The youngest respondents were more likely to say they purchased a new product during their last grocery shopping trip than their older counterparts, but those categorized as "early adopters" only show a slight age bias.
"Early adopters aren't just younger consumers," said Taddy Hall, senior vice president, Nielsen Innovation in the U.S. "Consumers of all ages are looking for products that make their lives better, and all can be passionate advocates if they find a product that fills a need. While millennials are garnering a fair amount of recent time and attention, consider casting the net wider, and do not lose sight of the needs across all age segments."
Globally, a few new product attributes resonate particularly strong across all age groups. Affordability (23 percent), convenience (22 percent), brand recognition (21 percent) and novelty (20 percent) were top reasons for purchase.
When it comes to the types of products consumers wish were on the market, affordability and convenience again top the list, followed by health and wellness and environmentally friendly attributes, according to Nielsen.
The Nielsen Global New Product Innovation Survey polled 30,000 online respondents in 60 countries.