Ben & Jerry's Pint Slices
Earlier this year, Unilever debuted Ben & Jerry’s Pint Slices.

What’s old is new again

A winning strategy in the crowded food and beverage marketplace may be as simple as updating a familiar product or idea, Ms. Dornblaser said.

“We see companies looking to the past to products that were popular, and might still be popular, and looking for ways to give them a little bit of a twist to make them appeal to a new audience,” Ms. Dornblaser said.

An example comes from Unilever, which earlier this year debuted Ben & Jerry’s Pint Slices, a range of ice cream novelties resembling the company’s classic Klondike bars. One variety, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, achieved $1.4 million in its first 18 weeks.

“I think the opportunity companies have is to refresh, refocus and be relevant,” Ms. Dornblaser said. “It’s about looking at your product line and seeing what needs to be refreshed a little bit, what’s gotten a little bit old and tired and can be updated and made more modern for a new consumer … it may be something like what Unilever has done in creating something similar in a completely different branding. But the most important thing is to be relevant.”