The blurring of eating occasions and proactive health and wellness are trends that influenced the introduction of the most successful new food and beverage products in 2012, said Susan Viamari, editor of Time and Trends for Information Resources, Inc. (I.R.I.).
Dannon’s Oikos Yogurt topped the list of 2012 New Product Pacesetters from I.R.I. as the product played into the convenience, health, protein and even indulgence trends. Additionally, innovation in the Greek yogurt market has been especially strong recently.
Other products that rounded out the top ten slots on the New Product Pacesetters list included Starbucks K-Cups, TruMoo, Breyers Blasts, MiO, Sparkling ICE, Nature Valley Protein Bars, Orville Redenbacher’s Pop Up Bowl and Daily’s Frozen Pouches.
To be classified as a Pacesetter, a product had to complete a full year of sales in calendar 2012, achieve 30% distribution and be the top 100 new banners based on year-one sales across multi-outlet geography.
Oikos and other Pacesetter products illustrate how the number of benefits top-selling products offer is increasing, Ms. Viamari said.
“This year’s food and beverage Pacesetters do a phenomenal job serving a number of long-standing consumer trends,” Ms. Viamari said. “They offer a nice balance of wellness and indulgence, even healthier-for-you spins on indulgent options. And they continue to raise the bar on convenience. But the average number of benefits offered by this year’s top-selling food and beverage launches has increased. In 2012, food and beverage Pacesetter brands offered an average 6.9 benefits versus an average of 5.3 benefits in 2002 to 2011. This increase is reflective of efforts to capitalize on new opportunities.”
Ms. Viamari said 64% of consumers are eating healthier today with consumers making choices they hope will help stave off ailments and chronic disease. As a result, 15% of 2012 Pacesetters offer functional benefits, with the most common being protein and antioxidants.
The year’s pool of new product introductions was unique in that 18% of new food and beverage launches were net new brands as opposed to brand extensions. Brand extensions typically dominate new product launches, but usually to an even greater degree than seen in the last year. For example, in 2011 8% of new food and beverage launches were net new brands, and in 2010 it was 12%.
“This really speaks to how new, generally small marketers are shaking up the status quo,” Ms. Viamari said. “We have several small companies making a big splash in the market.”
To this end, Ms. Viamari noted Buddy Fruits has changed the shelf-stable fruit aisle and the baby category with its line of pure blended fruit that is a convenient alternative to whole fruit. O.N.E. Coconut Water also introduced a line of coconut waters that features juice.
Ms. Viamari said value is “absolutely huge” for consumers, but she said value doesn’t necessarily mean cheap. Instead, value means different things to consumers at different times.
“Price is certainly a consideration,” Ms. Viamari said. “But meeting the needs of a specific target at a specific time is more important. These needs will vary by consumer, by time, by channel, by product and even by brand. Examples include intelligent indulgence (indulgence that saves money and/or indulgence that doesn’t completely derail efforts to eat healthier), nutritional power and flavor excitement.”
Consumers also are looking for the ability to personalize their products, and Kraft’s MiO plays into this trend. She said this product allows consumers to make their water work for them by providing flavor, vitamins or a boost of energy.
I.R.I. also named “Rising Stars,” products that are doing quite well and may be expected to make an impact on the market in the future. These included Starbucks Blonde Roast Coffee, Pepsi NEXT, Campbell’s Soup on the Go, Plum Organics Baby Food, Eight O’Clock K-Cups and belVita Breakfast Biscuits.
Ms. Viamari said these products indicate consumers are eating and drinking in a proactive manner as they work to avoid chronic disease. Additionally, the trend of eating on the go and the blurring of eating occasions is going to continue in the future. She said the competitive environment has become larger, and food and beverage marketers need to re-evaluate their consideration set. Competition is coming from other food companies such as fast-food marketers and other C.P.G. categories. As an example, she said chocolate isn’t just a candy indulgence as it may be found in many products throughout the store. Food and beverage marketers need to look for opportunities for their brands to enter completely new categories, she said.
Overall, Ms. Viamari said manufacturers need to keep in mind that innovation is truly driving growth in the marketplace. She said the four most active food and beverage usage groups are seeing above-average growth. Specifically, industry-average growth from 2009 to 2012 was 8.1%, but the coffee and teas sector grew 31% and breakfast solutions grew 12%. She said distribution matters as distribution in dollar, club, Wal-Mart and military outlets gave a large boost to year-one sales of Pacesetters. She said this is reflective of a changing retail landscape where innovators need to study the landscape and make sure their launches are distributed in the channels of choice of their target consumers.