Case study

The story of our 15+ product launches with Nestlé

Partnering with Nestlé to bring 15+ new food and beverage products into market

Nestlé is the world’s largest food and beverage company with more than 2,000 brands like Nescafé, KitKat, Nespresso, Maggi, Toll House, Mövenpick, Nesquick, Smarties, Gerber, and Milo.


Bringing innovations to market faster and more efficiently

R&D is one of Nestlé’s strengths. It always has been. And Innovation is the first pillar in the corporate strategy.

With the aim of occupying the centre stage as the World’s Food, Nutrition, Health and Wellness company, Nestlé puts R&D at the highest priority.

Board of Innovation partners with Nestle on executing and iterating on their R+D Accelerator innovation process going from ‘idea to shop in 6 months’ – reducing time to market and bringing R+D closer to the consumers and business.


Injecting expertise to innovate better and faster

We closely collaborate with Nestle and their cross-functional internal teams in an iterative ‘test and learn’ approach – first gaining deeper consumer insights and then using those insights to build better products. We bring in our innovative consumer-centric methodologies and experimentation, to own and coach the teams through the innovation process, from a to z – from ideation through to shop-testing.

Nestle R+D Accelerator lab

Bringing 15+ products in market globally, across multiple product categories

The close collaboration has already resulted in more than 15 products put into market over the past 3+ years – across five continents and eight different product categories.

We uncovered many promising breakthroughs including working in the early phases of the recently nationally- launched diabetic friendly frozen meals in the USA.


Partnering with Nestlé on 30+ R+D Accelerator projects globally to bring ideas to shop in 6 months across multiple product categories


Pushing the edge with Nestlé to bring innovations to market faster and more efficiently

Nestlé has long been at the forefront of food and beverage innovation, and has a long-standing history of launching new products, fast.

Still, depending on who you ask, anywhere between 85% and 95% of new product launches fail. ​

And at the same time companies globally spend large sums of money on R&D to develop new technologies and launch new products, so how can you make sure that money is well spent? 

Nestlé partnered with Board of Innovation in the early formation of their R+D Accelerator program to solve these challenges, and bring together cross-functional teams to bring products to market. Of course you can improve your success rate by taking more shots on goal, but you can also improve by making more of the shots you do take. With the R+D Accelerators, we aimed to do both.

The second goal of the collaboration was to instill an innovation mindset. Nestlé wanted to not just make R+D Accelerators about creating new products, but wanted to bring full-time Nestlé employees in on the journey to equip them with an innovation mindset and skills that last beyond the accelerator programs. The accelerator team members are often temporarily assigned to these projecst as the teams are puposefully built to solve a specific problem. 

Nestlé Global R+D Accelerators

From Singapore to Chile, Nestlé is fast-tracking global food innovation, bringing new, exciting food and beverage products to people everywhere.

Accelerator projects give teams six months to define and solve a problem and also test the market-solution fit. Along the way, teams receive mentoring and coaching to ensure key milestones.

The R+D Accelerators foster an entrepreneurial culture, and let teams go from idea to test launch in just a few months.


Injecting expertise to
innovate better and faster

The R+D Accelerator approach uses the best of what Design Thinking, Lean Startup, and Agile/Scrum methodologies offer. A key component is the Test & Learn approach which is nearly synonymous with the R+D Accelerator. We’re of the mindset that you should prove to spend, not spend to prove and are always pushing to test in the smallest increments possible to prove (or dis-prove) value and iterate accordingly. Over time we progressively increase the scale and fidelity of the experiments as we gain confidence. 

Our experience shows consumers respond best to prototypes, so how can you create versions earlier in the process for consumers to react to – both digitally and physically? 

Working with Nestlé’s internal teams to produce the minimum viable products and then test them in real-world conditions is the pinnacle of the Accelerator process. Depending on the project, the tests vary from a short-term shop test with a national retailer, a small boutique test at specialty shops or vending machines, to sending products to consumers for deep ethnographic deep dives and feedback. 

And there is no time to waste, because if you are not a little embarrassed by your MVP, then you’ve probably spent too much time behind closed doors perfecting it before showing it to a consumer. It is these behavioral insights that give us the confidence, and data, to make a solid recommendation on the business potential of the concepts being developed in the R+D Accelerators.

Golden Morn shoptest Nestle

The process we’ve honed in on is six months, split largely among ‘Problem Discovery,’ ‘Solution Design,’ Shop Test.’ And while there is a process, it isn’t rigid. This is part of what makes the R+D Accelerators great because while each Accelerator follows a similar path, each Accelerator team is enabled to make their own choices based on the unique needs for their specific project. We’ve taken to calling this ‘freedom within a framework.’

Our innovation consultants, experiment designers, and visual designers work closely with Nestle R+D, marketing, sales, product development, regulatory, legal, and beyond to make the projects and product launches happen.


Globally, bringing more than
15 products in market


years of partnership




products put into the market


countries and markets worked in

With more than 15 products put into market and more on the way, it is fair to say the Board of Innovation-assisted Accelerators have been a success.

Several promising breakthrough projects, including laying the groundwork for the recently nationally-launched diabetic friendly frozen meals in the USA.

Some of these projects are a few years in the making and, after the Accelerator, require further R+D time to develop and scale the solutions beyond the short-term shop test – so be on the lookout for many more R&D product launches in the future!

Throughout the last 3+ years, we’ve collaborated with Nestle to accelerate and propel their product innovation; across multiple product categories and geographies, we’ve ideated, validated, and launched several new food and beverage innovations. Our partnership cultivates an innovation mindset and stresses data-driven decision-making, laying the foundation for Nestlé’s continued market leadership.

Vincent Pirenne, Partner & Global Client Lead at Board of Innovation

Some of the projects we've worked on

Tapping into the growing cold coffee trend, (Nescafé Espresso Concentrate Coffee)

Challenge: In 2023, 1 in 3 cups of coffee consumed at home was cold. Nestlé wanted to tap into the growing trend of cold coffee, capturing the out of home cold coffee experience.

Strategy: As generational demands emerge, we explored what the future of coffee should look like for Gen-Z. After our research, we began our journey to bring Nestlé’s global success into the American instant coffee market.

Outcome: following successful shoptests in 2023,  in May 2024, Nescafé launched their premium Espresso Concentrate Coffee. 

Bringing affordable nutrition to the world
(Golden Morn)

Challenge: With nearly three billion people globally lacking affordable nutritious food, intensified by the pandemic and a war on wheat, Nestlé launched vitamin-fortified, low-cost porridge sachets in Central and West Africa. Verifying their effectiveness in Côte d’Ivoire, with its limited digital market research, posed challenges.

Strategy: Leveraging the low-tech sales setting, we employed hybrid shop testing in Abidjan to determine market reception for ready-to-eat cereal among the economically disadvantaged. We also engaged buyers and shopkeepers to understand consumption drivers.

Outcome: Our research validated the potential of Nestlé’s porridge, forecasting significant market penetration. Findings underscored the product’s nutrition and cost-effectiveness. Brand ambassadors emerged as pivotal in this demographic. We also spotted opportunities for brand expansion via more whole-grain versions in line with local preferences. Our efforts have assisted Nestlé in facilitating affordable nutrition for over twenty million in Côte d’Ivoire.


Launching Diabetic-friendly meals (Lean Cuisine Balance Bowls)

Challenge: The count of diabetics in America is projected to skyrocket from 22 million in 2014 to over 60 million by 2060, equating to 18% of US adults. These individuals grapple with managing their blood sugar alongside potential conditions like hypertension or heart diseases.

Strategy: Collaborating with Nestlé, we utilized design thinking to deeply understand the daily challenges faced by diabetics. A key insight was their desire to eat normally without associated risks.

Outcome: Our efforts culminated in a pilot test in 2022. Following refinements by Nestlé, they launched in spring 2023 as the premier American Diabetes Association approved frozen meals.

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