- Food and beverage launches that combine healthy and indulgence are posting sizable first-year sales in the marketplace, Market research company IRI found in its annual New Product Pacesetters report.
- Halo Top was the clear leader, raking in $324.2 million in sales. The ice cream company is followed by Good Thins, Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee, Nestle Splash and LIFEWTR.
- At the c-store, convenience and bold flavors dominated the top new products. Red Bull Green Edition at $110.7 million in sales was closely followed by LIFEWTR, Monster Mutant Super Soda and Hershey's Cookie Layer Crunch.
In announcing the most popular new food and product launches in 2017, it may not come as a surprise that these brands were among the leaders given the product attributes they contain. Increasingly, Big Food companies are introducing new brands to attract consumers who demand healthier products, bolder flavors and something that can be easily consumed while they are on the go.
IRI found millennials generally want good-for-you products, but they also crave balance, and will occasionally splurge on treats. Most of the successful launches in the multiple outlets category for food and drinks are snacks or sweets. In the beverage aisle, water continues to dominate, and two made the list in 2017, including Nestle Splash and LIFEWTR.
But no brand was as dominant as Halo Top. After launching in 2012, the ice cream maker, which posts the calorie content prominently on the front of its packaging, has benefited from consumer demand for products that contain clean and simple ingredients with which they are familiar. It is the #1 selling pint of ice cream in the U.S., beating out iconic brands such as Ben & Jerry’s and Breyers. While the brand has been around for a few years, it only recently met the criteria for IRI to include it in this list.
Despite Halo Top’s huge sales, it’s not surprising that many pacesetters launched with smaller figures, mostly less than $100 million. Millennials are more likely to shop around to meet specific needs rather than show loyalty to a big-name brand. Mondelez's Good Things, Nestle Splash, Hershey's Cookie Layer Crunch and Campbell Soup's Well Yes! were among the major food and beverage manufactures launching products below $100 million in sales.
"Smaller, more targeted launches have become a new norm in CPG aisles, as manufacturers look to enhance impact with launches that hit more tightly against key consumer needs and wants," IRI said in its report.
Trends show younger buyers will pay premium prices for products they feel are nutritional, good for the environment, offer a prime experience, or contain other attributes that are important to them. Pepsico’s LIFEWTR, for example, is a purified water, pH-balanced with electrolytes for added taste, and a brand that gives back to the community by supporting a program bringing art to students.
Industry leaders would be smart to remember that successful launches don’t need exhaustive amounts of money, but they do require the time and effort to tell a product's story in a way that connects with the consumer, such as through convenience, healthfulness, experience and social impact. It would not be surprising to see next year's IRI winners containing many of these same attributes as food manufacturers look to resonate with today's consumer — even if the new launches initially post only a few million dollars worth of sales.