Fab-brew-lous Collaboration: Product Innovations from the Melitta Group 

Editor’s note: This article is an automated speech-to-text transcription, edited lightly for clarity.   

Melitta Group had many ideas for a new product in a new market. The Melitta team knew they needed to narrow down the list of ideas so they turned to quantilope for their help in testing ideas to help narrow them down. 

On April 17, 2024, during the Quirk’s Virtual – Collaboration series quantilope and the Melitta Group shared the process they used to narrow the list down to one idea that ended up going to market.  

Read the transcript below or watch the recording to gain insights into the process used to develop Melitta’s idea into a new product.  

Session transcript  

Joe Rydholm: 

Hi everybody and welcome to our presentation, “Fab-brew-lous Collaboration: Product Innovations from the Melitta Group.” I'm Quirk’s Editor, Joe Rydholm.  

Thanks for joining us today! Just a quick reminder that you can use the chat tab if you'd like to interact with other attendees during today's discussion. And you can use the Q&A tab to submit questions to the presenters and we'll get to as many as we have time for at the end.  

Our session today is presented by quantilope. Julian, take it away.  

Julian Hellgoth: 

Thank you very much Joe and hi all. It's a pleasure to be here. Good morning, good afternoon from Hamburg, Germany. I think most of you are now having morning coffee. We here in Germany are later the day, so it's more afternoon.  

Yeah, it's good to be here. And today we will give you an insight about a ‘fab-brew-lous' collaboration between quantilope and Melitta. Before we start, we'll make a short introduction of ourselves. 

My name is Julian. I'm working as a client development director for quantilope. I have been working for quantilope for six years now and I'm responsible for the long-term success of our partnerships. I'm responsible for about 20 to 25 international-clients.  

Today I have the honor to have Ann-Katrin with me. She is one of my clients and we have now worked together, I think, for two and a half years. And as it's always better to introduce yourself, so I will hand it over to you Ann-Katrin.

Ann-Katrin Nentwig: 

Thank you. I'm Ann-Katrin. I'm the innovation manager for consumer insights at the Melitta Group.  

I have a master's degree in consumer psychology and market research. I work in the Department of Innovation Digitalization at Startups in the Melitta Group.  

I will guide you and give you a glimpse into how innovation is running at the Melitta Group today and how we work together with quantilope. 

First, because some of you may not know Melitta, the Melitta Group is FEMA founded, which was a long time ago, in 1908. We're family owned, which we're proud of and is why we also have lots of values and bring a long-term value-oriented mind-set with us.

In 2021, we had 2 billion turnovers worldwide and now we're around 6,000 employees. What we're earning money with are our three business pillars, which are coffee, coffee preparation and household products. We're a big player in the market when it comes to these three pillars, and we have lots of leading brands in different countries worldwide.  

Innovation is also in our history because our founder invented the coffee filtration that we have today. She's the inventor of the coffee filter. So, innovation is kind of at our heart.  

Our purpose as a team in our department is that together we want to make Melitta strong for the future. For us that means we collaborate in these teams and different business units, but also with our external partners. We are aware that there might be challenges in the future and our goal is to help Melitta prepare for them. We're really success-orientated visionaries. We want to make Melitta strong for the future together.  

My innovation team also has different goals for the Melitta Group. Our number one task is to excite, inspire and empower the people with methods, with knowledge and with tools to support the core business like coffee and coffee preparation or household products.  

We wouldn't call ourselves innovators if we didn't develop new business fields. This is also something we're working strongly with. Some of you might know that developing new fields of business is not that easy. Most of the time we're starting with rough ideas of what we want to bring to the market, but at some point, we need consumer research.

We need consumer research because we have lots of risk and uncertainty and we try to reduce this with the tests and the research we do to in the end come out with a good and well running business development project. 

Two years ago, we wanted to develop a new business field in the mental well-being sector, and we needed lots of ideas. As you may know, generating ideas is not a problem when you use design thinking. So, we came out of a design thinking workshop and generated lots and lots of ideas because our goal was to find relevant innovations and fill our product pipeline.

But we had one issue. We didn't quite know which of these ideas were worth driving forward and we didn't know what the consumers were thinking about our ideas at that point. We figured out that we were missing a tool for fast, convenient and high-quality consumer insights.

This is exactly where quantilope’s platform comes in.  

Julian Hellgoth: 

And I will take over at this point. Thanks Ann-Katrin for giving us a short glimpse of the business of Melitta.  

When we first met two and a half years ago, it was clear that Melitta was searching for a platform to do fast and convenient consumer insights research. But before going to the technology, we are providing, where we can collaborate in a good way, it was clear that the soft skills were a match because we, at quantilope, strongly believe in hands-on research. You should know the data you are generating; you should know the consumers.  

We, also, strongly believe in using advanced methods at scale to get deeper insights of your consumers to get a better understanding. 

At the end of the day, and all of you know the markets are moving fast. So, there's no time to wait six or eight weeks for insights. It's more about insights always being in real time and fast because the process of innovation is not only for generating insights about the consumer. It's also about what you do with these insights and how to develop it into a product. When we met Ann-Katrin two and a half years ago, that was just fantastic to see. Not only was there a need for this platform but we were also a match of our mind-sets, how we think about developing new things. 

To give you just a short glimpse into how our platform is working because we are not sure what you all know about our platform, I will give you a short insight into it.  

Our solution on the market is an end-to-end market research platform called Consumer Intelligence Platform. And we put the whole process of a quantitative market research study into one platform.  

For example, Melitta had a business question. Then we can set this up the business question in the platform and talk about ‘what should the project look like?’ In our platform you can collaborate, and that's what we are doing, we are not writing e-mails all the time and playing that e-mail ping pong game. We are working together in the platform, we are writing comments here, you can check with your internal stakeholders. So that's the working space.  

When the business question is clear, and all stakeholders are in, we have to dig into a questionnaire. That's the next step in our platform. You can build up the questionnaire on your own by just dragging and dropping things. You don't need to have any programming skills or IT skills, it's easy and convenient to use the platform and put together the questionnaire you need.  

In this case, Melitta is doing it by themselves because they are experts. They know what to do, they just brainstorm with us about OK, is it the right method to use? What do you think about the survey flow? Can we get the right answers with these kinds of questions?’  

On this part of our platform, you can use our automated advanced methods and the platform knows automatically how to analyze the data later on.

The next step, and as the most of you are researchers, you know that we should ask our consumers outside – and the platform is generating a link and you can use it with online panels as you normally do, but you can also use it in other spaces where you can put in a link.  

Then it comes to the heart of our platform, the analysis part. Everybody's able to analyze the data on different projects, which is also something we love about our collaboration. You don't need to have any SPSS skills, it's more like doing the right clicks. The technology is in the background putting it together in a chart.

The last step of a normal market research process is reporting because we generate insights. We want to deliver value to the business and help them make the right decisions. That's normally done within our platform on the insights dashboard.

The whole process is within one platform and that gives us also the possibility, or Melitta in this case, the possibility to do the research by themselves or together with us in a do it together mode and that's our working mode. We are working together in the platform to bring the most value to the business of the Melitta Group.  

What we strongly believe, I said it two or three minutes ago, we strongly believe in the usage of advanced methods. You will get deeper insights when you think, for example of one of these bigger rating matrix things, people tend to put themselves in the middle. But when we, for example, force them to make decisions, we think, and we believe that we get deeper insights and a clearer understanding. 

We have a lot of methods. So, the question with our clients is always, ‘Which methods do we want to use for which use case?’  

What we did together with Melitta, was build up Melitta’s quantitative innovation testing funnel. We sat together, had a workshop and defined what makes sense for the innovation part of the Melitta Group. We came out at the end of the day with the first step of our idea screener. 

We said, let's do the first step with an implicit method. Here, Melitta used one of our templates, and we customized it a bit for Melitta. We implemented this implicit association test to nail it down to less ideas because nobody is able to push forward a lot of innovations at the same time and it's also not that budget friendly. Ann-Katrin and her team had to make the decision, OK, what idea do we want to push forward?’

And when we were going further in this innovation testing funnel, we implemented an early concept test that we discussed and brainstormed about. Then we also used the template that we already have in our platform and customized it together with the Melitta team. That's now their second step in this innovation testing funnel.

The early concept test here we are using a maximum difference scaling, it's a method that gives you clear preferences. With this method, we force the consumer to make a decision on which idea he likes better and that gives the team of a great look into, OK, these are the most appealing, the most interesting ideas, we should push them forward,’ and perhaps other ideas that we have in mind before.

Then the last step is the more classical concept test. Here we narrowed it down to a few ideas. Then we use app and classic AP testing, which is also automated in the platform. 

That's the last step of this innovation testing funnel. That's the funnel we built up together with Melitta and Ann-Katrin will now give you some more details on what happens in different stages of this funnel.

Ann-Katrin Nentwig:

Exactly. As you mentioned, we're starting with the idea screener. 

Remember back to what our problem was. We were having a design thinking workshop with lots of ideas. So, our starting point was that we had many ideas when it comes to the field of mental wellbeing and their product ideas.

We then formulated these ideas into simple sentences, which means that it was like one or two sentences per idea. Then we defined KPIs we wanted to measure. For us as an innovation department, it's always cool to measure uniqueness, but also the probability of purchase is really important because in the end we need to earn money on these new products. For selecting these ideas, we used benchmarks that we set ourselves to easily decide which idea we take to the next step.

To give you background on our learnings, we tried to build subgroups within the ideas that have approximately the same number of ideas.  There is no need to preselect the ideas because the test will do this for us. But we also learned that it comes in handy when we split the test into several tests when we have different sub-product categories because it's easier to compare when the use case of the product idea is kind is the same.

To prepare for our tests, we prepared one sentence per idea that needed to be easy to understand because we were presenting only one sentence to the consumer. We tried to focus on the “what” of the product instead of the “why,” because we work a lot with marketers. They love to talk about why consumers should buy a product, but we focus on what the product actually solves. There should always be an objective presentation of the idea.

Then we do our test with simple association testing, implicit association testing. And at this stage we had so many ideas, for example, one was gum that makes you relax when you chew it. But this idea didn't make it to our first round of the idea screening. 

Afterwards we were doing the early concept test. At this stage, we already knew from the idea screener that our ideas that we're taking to the next step are on a good level. So, at this point we only had 10 ideas left, which gave us more space, and we took more time to formulate these ideas into short paragraphs.

Again, like Julian already mentioned, the participants had to indicate which of these ideas they like best and worst out of a small selection of all the ideas. In the end, all the ideas are ranked against each other, and we get a clear ranking on what the consumers prefer.

What we put in the test, I kind of already mentioned, we were using only different ideas that were not similar. Then we had three to four sentences per idea. Then we run the test. The result of the test was a clear ranking of which ideas the consumers prefer.

We also did a mini concept test to double check on well-known KPIs, that you usually use in a concept test, just to make sure the results of the idea screener are still reliable, and it is still worth fighting for these ideas we're working on.

At the end we had one idea, we focused then on at this point, but we could have done this stage with multiple ideas. We then started formulating this idea into a verbal concept, which means we described the idea with the insight, a benefit and a reason to believe.

And then as Julian already mentioned, we did an A/B test or monadic test and again, included more open questions at this point. We also included the first packaging drafts. We try to use different benefits as well and to find out which route would be best for our product.

In the end, we had the idea analyzed in depth and were sure it would be our next product, we would bring to the market with our startup incubator.

As I mentioned, most of you probably know how to do a concept test, but we also brought up benchmarks within this webinar because we thought it is helpful to show our German benchmarks to you that we use to decide if we take an idea into the next round.

And now after we've run all the ideas we created in the workshops with this testing funnel, we came to this one particular product we developed.

I'm really happy to introduce you now to our winning product, which actually made it to the market. We just launched this product, under the brand LIV. It's a fruit powder that supports gut health. It brings your mental wellbeing and your gut health in balance, so you don't need to worry about anything. It is support with bloating or something like that. It is now launched in our online shop and we're really happy with the outcome of our testing funnel.

And because in this time we made such progress with quantilope, we learned so many things. We developed a testing mind-set that we now try to bring into the Melitta Group and that we try to live in our day-to-day working lives, which means we try to trust the process.

We iterate every idea and the innovation process all the time. We know that adjustments can be made at any time, through every test we learned more about the field that we were looking at. So, we iterate everything, the ideas, the questionnaires, everything we do.

In the past, we worked closely with full-service institutes where we only had budget for one big test, which we did in the beginning and everything was based on this. Now with quantilope and this testing funnel, we conduct multiple tests and we're saving lots of time and money and we can always reassure that our hypotheses are right where we based our knowledge on.

As I mentioned, this platform also allows us to save time. This is why we have more time for our team, the preparation, the execution of the learnings and the analysis of the tests.

In the past, we tended to ponder for too long. We were in long discussions with everybody in the workshops we were having. Now, with this tool on hand, we can easily differentiate between one way and two-way door decisions, which means we easily test them instead of having internal discussions about which idea would be best to follow.

We also try to build up our in-house testing competencies so everybody has some understanding of how the data is created, how a quantitative research approach works so everybody can easily work with the results and the reporting.

This brings us to the part where we can now make database decisions easily and it gives us a clear direction on which and when we are killing our darlings.  

Julian Hellgoth: 

That's so great. As you know, Ann-Katrin, I just like this testing mind-set. 

We know we should always work consumer centered. It, for sure, makes sense to develop great ideas, but nobody's happy when the consumers do not like the product. We  develop products for the consumers in specific markets. To be totally clear, all actions should always be consumer centered.

Then the next point, and that's what the session is also about, is the collaboration. Working together with your clients or the other way around, working together with your suppliers should, from our point of view, be collaborative. You can learn from each other, challenge the other and get better.

We believe working together brings more value to the business. It's not about only working internally. For example, Ann-Katrin is working with a lot of internal stakeholders within the Melitta Group, but she's also working with us and working with other agencies. So, when everybody is on the same page, we believe it results in the best results we can have.  

The last point today is all decisions should be data based because there is a lot of data and technology is able to sum data up or to do work for us. So, we should use it and we should bring all of this together to get the best results you can get.  

So, consumer centered, collaborative and database. From our point of view this collaboration. This is the best way to work together.  

This is the end of the presentation, which we hope gave you a glimpse of the innovation testing funnel of the Melitta Group and that you get something out of it. If you have any questions now, just ask. We are looking forward to answering questions.