Reading about P&G's experience on Alway's Discreet pads and adult diapers is a classic case of why traditional market research has its limits and why transactional-testing needs to be utilized more often. You can read the WSJ's description of the case here: https://www.wsj.com/articles/p-gs-incontinence-problem-how-to-get-women-into-adult-diapers-1530014400 . Here's our analysis:
First: Focus group behavior rarely clarifies shopper behavior - innovation and research managers alike know that focus groups can be powerful! They help get to a deeper understanding of the consumer's problem, illuminate emotional truths and help to tease out communication strategies that help your concept win in the marketplace. But those insights are only half the battle... the "first moment of truth" is when your consumer sees your product on the shelf, when they are no longer a consumer, but are actually in a "shopper" mindset - challenged by time, children and 30,000 choices to make. And if that shopper is rushing around through your aisle because of embarrassment, then that's not the time to be discrete with key communication points on the package.
Second: Reality trumps theory, every time - No matter how crisp and clean and lovely a new packaging design looks, there is no substitution for the insights gained from placing it on a shelf next to 20 of your friendly competitive SKUs. At a minimum, bring your mockup into a local store, place it on a shelf and take a picture - that effort alone can tell you volumes. Ideally - innovation and new brand entrants should take the time to run a test in a series of stores in order to both tease out the data of how it performs while intercepting shoppers to understand why its working (or not). Not sure how to do that? We can help!
Lastly: Risk is best minimized by early insight & experience - Because P&G had to spend 2 years in the market learning from its mistakes, and then spend more money on re-studying, re-designing and re-launching the line, it begs the question whether more could have been done up front to mitigate the risk of their investment prior to the launch. Everyone has budgets they have to manage, and its impossible to do all the research you want on every project, but when significant volume & profit is on the line, sometimes the cost of one more testing scenario - specifically transactional testing, like our MicroBurst process - is an ideal pathway to help mitigate risk and correct key issues before its too late.