Did It Pass? A Look Into Our Product Launch Process
Did It Pass? A Look In To Our Product Launch Process
January 7th, 2020 • York, Maine
Written by: Margaux Maertens, Communications Specialist
Ever wonder who comes up with our product ideas? Or what our evaluation process is like? With over 400 different food products on the shelf, we consider ourselves experts in product development from start to finish! I sat with our in-house Research & Development Team (R&D) and they gave me the step-by-step on how our products come into fruition. Check it out…
Step One: Ideas and Brainstorming. Product ideas come from employees and guests alike. Some want to recreate a homemade recipe they remember during their childhood, others describe a dish they had at a restaurant and ask us to come up with our version so they can have it at home, and sometimes we make a mistake during our recipe development and that mistake turns into a best-selling product (like our Roasted Garlic Onion Jam!).
Step Two: The Whittling Down. Long before our actual product launch, our internal team gets together and reviews all the product ideas. Trends, production capabilities, product pricing, marketability, shelf life, ingredient accessibility… these are just a few key factors that we take into consideration for every idea we receive. If the product makes the cut, we keep it on the list. By the end of the process, we’ve whittled down our list of ideas to actual products that will be tested by our Sensory Panel Team!
Step Three: The Sensory Panel. Once R&D works their magic from turning ideas to physical product, the 25 or so members of our Sensory Panel put it to the test. Industry standard uses a 9-Point Scale in product evaluation. Texture, flavor and appearance are the three main factors that are closely examined and rated. Industry standard passes a product with a 7 or higher, however we put our products to a higher standard and only pass products that rate an 8 or higher. If a product comes back with a rating below an 8, comments and suggestions are taken into consideration, R&D alters the recipe accordingly and then it goes back to the sensory panel. Some products will pass on the first round, other products take two or three rounds and then we have those we don’t want to give up on but go through almost 30 rounds of trial and error (Dulce de Leche, anyone?).
Step Four: The Product Passed. Now What? Once the products pass, the R&D team sends the list over to our Executive Team where they review those original key factors again (marketability, profits, trends, etc.) and finalize which products will be in the official launch! And voila! This process repeats itself twice a year bringing you new products that we hope you love as much as we do.
The reality is, some of the products we launch aren’t as successful as others. When that happens, it’s always on a case-by-case basis. For example, our newly launched Country Mayup is a delicious blend between our Farmhouse Mayo and Country Ketchup. Commonly known as fry sauce, fancy sauce or secret sauce … this now trendy combination wasn’t always popular. We actually tried producing it in 2015, when Stonewall Kitchen co-founder, Jonathan King, wanted to create a product that combined two of the most common condiments used on burgers and fries. The initial product graduated to production and when the results were back from the Sensory Panel, there was a lot of concern over the color of the mayup. Although it tasted great, the panel came to agreement that it wouldn’t sell well because of its appearance. So, we said goodbye … for now! Flash forward to the beginning of 2019 when we started seeing trends of the ketchup and mayonnaise combo everywhere. Restaurants and grocery stores stocked up on its different varieties and that was the go ahead we needed to dig up the old recipe and bring it back to life! The Sensory Panel tasted the Country Ketchup and Farmhouse Mayo combo again and it passed on its first round.
One fact about Stonewall Kitchen is that we tend to always be way ahead of trends and the Country Mayup is the perfect example. A product that would have been first of its kind back in 2015 had to wait just a little bit for the world to catch up and now it’s ready for you to bring home!
Margaux joined the Stonewall Kitchen family two years ago as the Events and Marketing Coordinator for Stonewall Kitchen where she flipped pancakes at the annual Pancake Breakfast and decorated pumpkins during the Halloween festivities! Margaux became Stonewall Kitchen’s Communications Specialist in February of 2018 and is loving every minute of it.