Topo Chico Lime: Why User Research Is So Important for New Products

Recently we took a trip to Whole Foods to get some groceries, and we saw cases of Topo Chico Lime stacked up near the front.  We grabbed one to try it out, and it's the last case we'll ever buy.  Why?

1. The bottles were too tall

They didn't fit on the shelf where we normally put our cold drinks, and so the fridge wouldn't close.  Since the rest of the fridge was full, there wasn't nothing to do but tilt them at an angle and hope they didn't fall out onto the floor when the door opened.

Too tall!

2. They look like beer bottles

My wife and I both work remotely and do a lot of video calls.  No big deal to drink a Topo Chico while on a call, but sip on one of these bad boys and it looks like you're drinking beer in the middle of the day.  Not so professional...

What SaaS companies can learn from the CPG industry

Imagine being the brand manager for Topo Chico Lime.  This product launch was probably many quarters in the making.  Now imagine they see some good initial numbers after the launch, then wait for a week or two and see a huge drop off.  What should she do next?

Imagine what a SaaS startup might do in this scenario - a new product launch, decent initial user volume (or trials) but no ongoing engagement, no return users.  Many companies would set up the "Engagement Entourage" to brainstorm ways to boost engagement.  More emails!  Change the onboarding experience!  The list goes on.

What does the Topo Chico Lime team do?  If they're anything like the General Mills teams I worked on, they call on their Consumer Insights person to help them understand why consumers aren't buying again.  They're setting up focus groups.  They're intercepting shoppers in stores.  They're reviewing the results from past in-home ethnographic studies.  They're analyzing data sets to identify who is buying again and who isn't.  And through this, they can uncover insights like "oh, the 20 oz bottle is too tall" and "the green bottle makes it look like beer".

What's my point? 

You have to be doing qualitative research to understand the quantitative feedback your data analytics provides.  It's such an efficient way to understand why people are behaving the way they are.