Developing Signature Flavors for New Products

Developing Signature Flavors for New ProductsDeveloping Signature Flavors for New Products

Developing a new consumer packaged good takes a lot of hard work and dedication. This is especially true when developing new products in the food and beverage space. 

The most important factor for the success of a food or beverage product is having a distinct, well-crafted, and highly satisfying flavor profile that offers the customer a positive experience they will want to repeat. However, there are many other parts of a product’s formulation that impact the flavor profile, and they need to be considered carefully long before you start honing in on the exact taste of your product. 

In this comprehensive guide, we walk you through how to take your existing product concepts and add in some new product ideas to add value to your brand as you begin the product development process. Learn about the importance of flavor and working with trained flavoritsts at a trusted house like Renaissance Flavors.

Know Your Market

The research phase of your product development process is likely to be the longest as well as the most important part of your flavor selection and creation process. Not only does it include the initial research phase, which is more focused on markets, trends, and demographics, but also several testing phases that cycle back into research as you work to perfect the flavor, presentation, and delivery of your product. 

In the initial phase of research, you’ll want to build as much information as you can. You need to know your target market inside and out so ask important questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What are their values?
  • What needs of theirs are you fulfilling with your product?
  • Who else is trying to fulfill those needs?
  • What are your top competitors offering?
  • What more can you offer your customer, on top of a great product, to align with their values and gain their loyalty?
  • What are the trending flavors and value adds in your market?

While some of these may seem to have little to do with flavor, remember that flavor doesn’t exist in a vacuum; the entire formulation of your product will contribute to the final taste experience and, by extension, the success of the brand. If you are going to offer a product using only natural or sustainable ingredients, you are going to limit yourself in what flavors you can use to start with, but you may also end up becoming heavily reliant on the active ingredients of the product to also supply the flavor and this can result in inconsistency between batches and across shelf life. 

That’s not to say you shouldn’t move forward with a natural, organic, or sustainable product, just be aware that those value adds will impact your flavor development process and so should be decided before any time or money is put toward formulation. 

Once you’ve looked at all of the market research and made decisions on what your product should do, how it will serve your customer, and your unique offering, you should have some idea already of what flavors would be a good fit for the market and your product.

After this initial phase of research and planning comes the concept development and testing phase. Much of this stage of product development is intertwined with the specifics of the flavor development process which we will dig into in a later section. 

Once you have a prototype of your initial product design, it’s time to let your potential customers try it out and give feedback. This is a great space to facilitate idea generation and get real practical suggestions from from your testing market, just be sure that you are gathering your data from a test market that accurately represents the actual customers your are hoping to reach (don’t test your product in Los Angeles if you’re going to launch it in Toronto, etc.). 

This part of the research phase can repeat on for several iterations until you have the best possible version, ready to head to market as your final product.

Functional Benefits and Value Adds

As touched on in the previous section, it’s important to know what kind of functional benefits and premium value adds you want your new product to offer. These features will greatly impact your formulation and by extension your product’s overall flavor profile. 

One of the most restrictive trends in the health and wellness space is the drive for clean-label products. For many concerned over clean-label ingredients, additional falvoring, even natural flavoring, is frowned upon. To adhere to the clean-label standard you will need to source the majority if not all of your flavor from the main ingredients of the product. 

The less strict and much more popular natural and organic trends also tend to shy away from lengthy ingredient lists, but are not as concerned over the specifics as long as they are natural or organic. With this option, you may still end up relying heavily on the main ingredients for your flavor, but you will be able to enhance it with some additional natural flavors. 

Both of these larger trends also link heavily to consumer desire for functional ingredients, or ingredients that offer additional benefits such as immunity, energy, focus, etc. Many of these ingredients will also contribute to the overall flavor profile so the source ingredient should be carefully considered beyond the nutrients and functional benefits you hope to offer.

Other value adds to consider include allergen-free certifications, transparent ethical sourcing, and sustainable practices throughout the production process. Once you have come to a decision on these factors, you should have a good base concept for your formulation as well as your requirements for the types of raw materials you will need to source.

Even if you choose to lean into the health and wellness trends of natural, functionally beneficial, and clean ingredients, doesn’t mean you can’t offer an indulgent flavor experience. And that is truly what consumers are looking for these days is an experience.

Fine Tune Your Flavor

Now that you have the base formulation of your product and all of the parameters for meeting your on label certifications, it’s time to start perfecting the flavor profile. For the majority of startup brands, this means working in close partnership with a flavor house. 

At Renaissance Flavors, our expert flavor chemists will help you build the perfect flavor profile for your formulation and your target audience. A product’s flavor is the key driver in product selection for over 88% of people surveyed by the International Food Information Council Foundation in 2020. This is why it is so essential to work with skilled flavor experts as part of your product development strategy. 

Brands tend to only receive half the number of secondary purchases as initial purchases and half again from the second to the third time and so on until the majority of customer purchases are from customers that are loyal to the brand and the product. This is why a standout flavor is so important for converting first time curiosity and variety purchases into loyal repeat customers. 

The flavor of your product needs to pique their curiosity, excite the senses, and create such a positive flavor experience that your customers come back again and again. If you can offer them a product that not only aligns with their values and gives them the nutritious natural ingredients that they want to stay health but also make that product taste amazing, then your brand has a much better chance of holding its own and succeeding in the highly competitive food and beverage industry. 

If, on the other hand, your flavor falls short, even the most expensive marketing strategy, most popular social media influencers, and most high end sustainable, recyclable, limited edition packaging isn’t going to save your brand. All of those things can be wonderfully helpful for your brand, but they won’t replace a high-quality, well-developed, professionally flavored product that people actually enjoy the taste of. 

In order to build the perfect balance of functionality and flavor, it’s imperative that you work with a trusted flavor house, like Renaissance Flavors, where experienced professionals can bring their expertise to the table to help you build a flavor profile that gives your brand the best opportunity for success in your specific market.

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