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Research TNS

60% of new product launches are zombie or cannibal products


By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

November 21, 2013 | 2 min read

Companies have been damaging their business by launching ‘zombie’ and ‘cannibal’ products that eat into their profits, research from TNS has found, with the food and drink industry wasting £600m per year on R&D.

‘Zombie’ products fail to provide long-term growth, acting as a ‘dead weight’ on the company, while ‘cannibal’ products simply transfer customers from other products in the portfolio.

3,500 consumer goods launches including savoury snacks, laundry, soft drinks and skin care were studied by TNS, with only 15 per cent of new product launches coming under its category of ’expansion innovations’: new products that attract sales which add to a company’s existing revenues.

McCain’s Jackets was given as an example of such an expansion innovation.

Phil Sutcliffe, managing director IPD UK at TNS, said: “Too many businesses are spending huge amounts of money on quasi innovation that only convinces existing customers to swap within their range. The key to unlocking true growth is to focus on genuine innovations that will draw in brand new customers or lead to greater frequency of use by existing customers.

“The rewards for those that get it right are phenomenal. Launching a successful ‘expansion’ product, founded in genuine innovation, can rejuvenate a company’s fortunes and put it into a league of its own.”

The food and drinks industry in the UK alone is wasting an estimated £600m per year on R&D, in addition to the billions in pounds of costs in launching over 3,600 zombie and cannibal products.

Research TNS

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