It is often the case that a product’s trajectory – from conception, to marketing, to the ‘shelf’ – passes through many disparate fiefdoms within an organisation on its journey, each of which has skills and knowledge germane to its own role in the product’s genesis, but each of which rarely sees the landscape. A body-care product, for example, will require an appropriate formulation chassis, a functional active, a winning rheology, an appealing perfume, an attractive colour, a distinguishing pack, an appropriate pricing, a marketing narrative, and an identified consumer market segment. Consumers expect a product to deliver optimal functionality, but the space to optimise this is limited. New molecules drive new business, but they are rare, and with new legislation are becoming more difficult to develop and deploy.
What differentiates the successful product from its competitors is a combination of factors, many of which are dependent upon its sensory – and more often multisensory – properties (the smell, the feel, the look etc), belief systems supporting its use, contexts in which it used, appropriate grooming behaviours in which it is applied, its ease of use, and for a new product, a convincing reason to purchase. All of these factors can be addressed by applying knowledge of sensory, perceptual, cognitive and emotional processes – from the ability of the skin to sense the complex physic-chemical properties of a product (and to determine if it causes irritation), to the pack design that helps it ‘pop-out’ on the supermarket shelf.