After two decades of watching
the role of new products in marketing in diverse fields, Francis Kanoi is of the
firm belief that the core of marketing expertise lies in new product development.
Kanoi has been fortunate in having had an insider status with regard to a large
number of new product launches including toilet soaps, detergents, chocolates,
beverages, washing machines, colour television sets, two-wheelers, etc.
Very often, this involvement began at the concept stage, going through to every
stage, through the launch and post-launch tracking of the brand. In doing this,
the company has often been well-placed to compare research findings with actual
performance, taking into account all the other elements involved in determining
the performance of the brand. This has added tremendously to its ability to predict
likely performance from pre-launch research.
It is in these new product launch situations that Francis Kanoi has come up with
some very innovative work.
example, a two-wheeler company which saw product development, requiring 3-5 years
of lead time, as critical to its long-term status, wanted a mathematical model
which could predict the potential for a vehicle as a dozen critical specifications
The solution was
an interactive software incorporating all that was known, together with a specific
study to bridge that which was unknown. The software not only identified the potential
but also estimated the contribution from the different existing segments and the
sensitivity of the potential to variation in each specification.
The solution to this problem required many assumptions to be made. The client
knew this, as did Francis Kanoi, and these assumptions were going to be made by
the decision-maker anyway. However, by making these assumptions explicit in model
building, we were drawing the attention of the decision-maker to consciously consider
these assumptions while he looked at the research findings.
Kanoi identified in the late eighties the "liked-because-it-is-different"
syndrome in the product testing of consumer products, foods and beverages and
its implications in the interpretation of findings. The outcome was a product
testing programme in place of isolated product tests.
In the case of durables and two-wheelers, Francis Kanoi has demonstrated the futility
of testing new products among potential buyers in general. In 1985, a fully automatic
washing machine at Rs.10,000 was considered ridiculous as a replacement for a
maid costing Rs.50 per month. Yet, five years later, nearly 100,000 such washing
machines were being sold.
Kanoi has also worked on such methodological issues as "guest factor"
which renders the findings on purchase intentions hard to interpret in Central