Thursday, April 9, 2015

Searching for Unarticulated Niches

Read deep into Bloomberg BusinessWeek's article about Hershey's Will Papa, research chief, and you'll notice this sentence: "In his 30 years at P&G, Papa learned to search for what R&D types call unarticulated niches -- stuff people don’t know they want."

Unarticulated niches: Customer segments with unstated needs that the marketer aims to satisfy with a new product, either new-to-the-world or featuring some innovative twist that differentiates it from an existing product.

North American gum sales are stagnant or falling, in part because gum is no longer a trendy product among teens and because of growing preference for mints. Gum chewers are also fussy about sugar and artificial ingredients--and a bit confused by the proliferation of products screaming for attention at the checkout counter.

No wonder companies like Hershey want to convert chewers to their hybrid products. Above, the result of Papa's research: Hershey's Ice Breakers Cool Blasts, a combination of gum and mint. The idea is to deliver the breath-freshening taste of mint with the satisfying experience of chewing, an unarticulated niche. But does meeting the needs of an unarticulated niche lead to profits?

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