The 5 Stages of Product Development at a CPG Company


Here at Back to the Roots, we pride ourselves on finding unique, accessible, and creative ways to connect families with growing and eating good food. We’ve seen you grow our existing seed varieties of Radish and Wheatgrass microgreens in classrooms and kitchens. People have shared and experienced this homegrown food in delicious meals, as beautiful indoor gardens, and with their loved ones and even pets! Yes, our community of kitties love the fresh wheatgrass and watching their pet Betta fish.

Our user’s feedback is priceless, and we love incorporating user thoughts and feelings into every product. We heard your feedback loud and clear about wanting new seed varieties, and we thought we’d share what goes on behind the scenes to develop new products for our customers. Enjoy this sneak peek into how we develop new seed varieties for our Water Garden and improve the aquaponics tank you already love!



Stage 1:  Ask our community questions about how they’ve interacted with our products.

The beginning of every great new Back to the Roots product is questions – lots and lots of questions! We’re always pushing to learn more about where our products end up, how they are being used, and how every home-gardener’s experience can be improved and enriched.

First, we like to ask questions about using the product:

  • How long have they had the Water Garden for? Where do they keep it in their home?
  • How are people enjoying the freshly harvested microgreens? What else are they growing?
  • How can we improve your experience with our tank (set up, harvest, cleanup, maintenance, etc)?

It’s our job to make each use delightful, engaging, and well-suited to the people who purchase our products.


Stage 2:  Identify the key areas of improvement.

Some of our central focuses on improving and designing products are:

  • User-centered design
  • Packaging and component waste reduction
  • Material saving/sustainability
  • User assembly time-saving and simplification of use
  • More fun & magic!

Improving how you experience a Back to the Roots products is extremely important, but we also realize that indoor gardeners love new ideas. We are proud to offer the staple microgreens that we do now – but we are hungry for more! This is where we start to brainstorm.



Photo courtesy of Salesforce @


Stage 3:  Brainstorm ideas to address the key areas of improvement.

Our team is hard at work exploring new ways to use your Water Garden. When we’ve come up with a new idea that is exciting, in-line with our mission to reconnect families back to food, and we think people would love to grow and eat, we start exploring it in the real world. First, we talk with our current and local partners about new production capabilities. Have our partners had success with that microgreen (or other seed) variety? Would we be able to get those seeds on a commercial scale? What are the costs are launching certain seeds? Will our packaging partners be able to take on the envisioned new package?

We’ve had a blast growing Green Pea Shoots, Mustard Greens, Sunflower Shoots, Arugula Greens, and even Amaranth! In measuring the success of our new varieties, we identified the metrics of germination rate, flavor and color appeal, water, sunlight, and temperature requirements.


Stage 4:  Testing the solution out!

We order the new seeds to our office, and get our fish tanks set up (just like our users!). Currently we have 4 Betta fish diligently helping us explore new seeds. Their names are Bocadito, Bao, Boba, and Babuji! As the new seeds grow, we take careful note of the conditions in our in-house grow lab, and ask ourselves how we can set every customer up for growing success.

Every day we take careful notes and take photos of how our sprouts and fish are faring in their given environment. We carefully measure pH, nitrates, nitrites, and observe how the microgreen roots spread in the grow bed, thereby absorbing excess nutrients in the tank (fish food, fish waste), and keeping the tank clean and cycling.



Stage 5:  Read the results of testing and pinpoint the most successful solution.

We look at the results of every test, discuss with the rest of team (even our finance managers weigh in!), and begin figuring out how to get this awesome new variety out into the world, into your grow pods, and onto your plate!

That just about sums up the basic steps of the product development cycle – from here, it enters a commercialization analysis with the operations, finance, and supply chain team to see how we can bring the product idea to life. Leave a comment below on what about Back to the Roots you’d like to learn next and be sure to check out our newest seed offerings here to help make your Water Garden even more fun and easy to grow and enjoy!

P.S. If you’re interested in giving us feedback on our products, email to join our Innovation Club!


By Caroline E. @ Back to the Roots

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