Consumers in developing markets are 'Early Adopters' of new products: Study

Internet-related platforms are four of the top nine sources used for new product discovery. 23% of Generation Z and 21% of Millennial respondents want more premium-priced new items

A new Nielsen Global Survey on new product innovation finds consumers in developing markets to be the most inclined to try new products. More than half of respondents in Asia-Pacific (69%), Africa/Middle East (57%) and Latin America (56%) say they purchased a new product during their last grocery shopping trip, compared with 44% of European and 31% of North American respondents.

The study found that nine of the 11 markets with the highest percentage of early adopters (based on new product purchase sentiment) are developing countries: Brazil (39%), Peru (30%), Israel (30%), Colombia (28%), India (28%), Latvia (28%), South Africa (28%), Bulgaria (27%), Serbia (27%), Croatia (26%) and Romania (26%).

“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.”


Brand competition is intense and shelves are crowded. The vast majority of new product introductions are taken out of distribution before the end of their launch year. “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 most commonly used source to learn about new products is reliance on friends and family, cited by 56% of global respondents, followed by viewing TV ads (52%), seeing it in a store (48%) and using active Internet search (44%). In fact, Internet-related platforms are four of the top nine sources cited for new product discovery: social media postings (26%), Internet ads (26%), and brand/manufacturer web pages (25%) are the other three sources. Receiving a free sample (31%) and newspaper/magazines (27%) are the other top sources cited.

While the top list of sources combine a mix of 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%) and Latin America (31%), compared to 20% of European and 22% of North America respondents.


While the youngest respondents are more likely to say they purchased a new product during their last grocery shopping trip than their older counterparts, those categorized as ‘early adopters’ only show a slight age bias.

Globally, a few new product attributes resonate particularly strong across all age groups. Affordability (23%), convenience (22%), brand recognition (21%) and novelty (20%) were top reasons for purchase. When it comes to the types of products consumers wish were on the market but are not readily available, affordability (43%) and convenience (27%) again top the list, followed by  health and wellness (28%) and environmentally friendly (26%) attributes.

“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 site of the needs across all age segments.”

Generationally, there are some interesting differences to note. Roughly half of Baby Boomer (ages 50-64) and Silent Generation (ages 65+) respondents say they wish more products were available at affordable prices, compared with 43% of Generation Z (ages 15-20), 40% of Millennial (ages 21-34) and 42% of Generation X (ages 35-49) respondents. Conversely, a greater percentage of Generation Z (23%) and Millennial (21%) respondents wish more premium items were available on the market than Generation X (16%), Baby Boomer (14%) and Silent Generation (7%) respondents.  


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