Make Your Product New and Improved

There are many existing products in the market that are serving the needs and wants of customers but not that well. The existing products are being tolerated because there are enough features and attributes to make the customers want to buy the product. However, there are enough “dissatisfiers” in the product to warrant the introduction of new, improved versions, or modifications of the product such as in the case of the Crunchy Bawang.

Case Example: Crunchy Bawang — the Case of New Improved Product

Two entrepreneurs, Geraldine Domingo and Carla Ortega wanted to improve an existing product, that is, the fried garlic in oil (FGO) otherwise known as “Crunchy Bawang.” The product was commanding a higher price of ₱180 per bottle although they thought it could be substantially upgraded.

The two entrepreneurs bought several bottles of the existing FGO and decided to conduct taste tests and interviews at a school cafeteria of graduate students to determine the positive and negative attributes and features of the product. One hundred respondents were chosen during lunchtime. The respondents liked the peculiar garlic taste (67%), its crunchiness and texture (92%), and the bottled convenience it offered (56%). What they disliked about the product was its relatively bland taste (74%) compared to fresh products, its oiliness (71%), and its food safety aspects (38%) because there was no expiration date, no manufacturer’s name, its poor packaging, and no details on the ingredients. Eighty-nine percent said they would buy the product while 11% said no. The preferred prices were between ₱76.00 and ₱100.00 (74%), ₱100.00 to ₱125.00 (11%), ₱125.00 to ₱150.00 (8%), ₱50.00 to ₱15 (5%) and ₱151.00 to ₱175.00 (2%).

In terms of usage, the entrepreneurs discovered that 33% used the FGO as rice toppings while 67% placed it on their plates beside the viand. The entrepreneurs also interviewed the buyers of the existing FGO by waiting for them near the store selling the FGO. They found out that the buyers regularly bought the FGO to enhance the taste of their cooked food. The buyers also did not like the oiliness of the FGO and its high price, although the convenience seemed to make up for the price.

The two processes allowed the entrepreneurs to conclude that: (1) there was a good demand for the product; (2) the product could be improved by lessening the oil, enhancing the taste, and coming up with a better package; and (3) customers could buy a bigger volume if the prices were lower.

From the taste test and interviews of FGO buyers, the entrepreneurs plunged into the product development stage. This consisted of three parts: (1) preliminary testing; (2) establishment of specifications for the product; and (3) standardization of the production process.

Part 1: Preliminary Testing

In the first part, the entrepreneurs consulted food experts and read the literature on food processes. They were told that, “fried garlic submerged in oil and sealed in a bottle as a food system was very unstable.” They discovered that there was a need to regularly replenish the cooking oil with fresh oil. There was also danger of undercooking the inside portion of fried food. These findings and other such recommendations propelled the entrepreneurs to conduct several experiments to determine the following:

    • the right garlic size and shape that would be the easiest to cook and the most pleasing in appearance;
    • the expected yield of FGO from one kilo of unpeeled garlic;
    • the right frying temperature;
    • the minimum peeling time for garlic; and
    • the minimum mincing time for garlic.

Part 2: Establishment of Specifications for the Product

In the second part of product development, the entrepreneurs determined the exact specifications for the product based on the raw material and the vegetable oil to be used. The entrepreneurs chose four different options on the kind of garlic to be used and two different options for the vegetable oil (after eliminating the very expensive oils for cost reduction purposes).

In terms of methodology, the entrepreneurs gathered a panel of 25 food technology students in their third and fourth year from a top university. The taste test on the 25 panelists sought to determine the best color, odor, crunchiness, flavor, and acceptability of the FGO by using the statistical Analysis of Variance or ANOVA method. The ANOVA method tabulated the results of the taste tests and determined whether there was a statistical difference in the mean scores revealed by the test results. This was done by postulating the null hypothesis that there was no difference among the mean scores of the different options tested.

From the product test, the entrepreneurs chose the desired garlic variety and the appropriate vegetable oil. This part of the product-testing phase needed food technologists’ expertise rather than consumers since they were more knowledgeable on the technical aspects of color, odor, texture, flavor, and crunchiness. Moreover, their taste buds were deemed more sophisticated because of their training and exposure to different types of food and cooking styles.

Part 3: Standardization of the Production Process

The third phase of product development involved the standardization of the entire food preparation and cooking process. The entrepreneurs wanted to-standardize the frying time, the optimum oil usage and oil recycling frequency, and the optimum soaking time in calcium chloride. Again the results of the various experiments conducted by the entrepreneurs were subjected to a panel of food technologists. The mean scores of the test results were tabulated and they were, again, subjected to the ANOVA method to determine their statistical significance.

Finally, when the entrepreneurs were satisfied that they were able to determine the best FGO to be produced and marketed, they then developed the whole FGO production process. They divided this into three parts: (1) pre-frying stage; (2) frying stage; and (3) post-frying stage. This work process allowed the entrepreneurs to become more efficient in converting the production input into production output by designing a good transformation process or throughput system.