Cover Story: Heat Seekers

The 20 new best sellers of 2013 reflect the trifecta of product trial

Steve Dwyer, CSP Reporter

Abbey Lewis, Editor in Chief, CSProducts

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Inquiry to food and beverage marketers: Just what’s the mother of invention that underpins new-product innovation these days?

Is it pressure to innovate triggered by competition— you know, a case of me-too-ism? Is it motivated by opportunity from consumer behavioral shifts? Evolving retail-channel trends? Maybe it’s arbitrary: Let’s innovate this year because, why not?

The consumer packaged goods (CPG) innovation seen in 2013 is owed to all of the above, with a certain condition: Go with the flow. With consumers increasingly valuing continuous, mini-meal consumption while on the go, well, there’s your flow.

And what products win? Those that hit on one or more of the trifecta of new-product trial, according to Chicago-based Information Resources Inc. (IRI): excitement, indulgence and nutrition.

All told, 190,000 new UPCs hit shelves in 2013, accounting for an estimated 15% of total moving UPCs in the form of more than 9,500 new brand launches, according to IRI. Between 2011 and 2013, an estimated 30,000 new products landed on shelves across retail segments.

In March of this year, IRI released its latest Pacesetters roster, the top-selling new products based on year-one sales. The firm provided Convenience Store Products with an exclusive look at the top 20 new c-store products (it typically releases the top 10 publicly) with an analysis of what consumer, retailer and manufacturer habits are reflected within the ranking.

People continue to demand quick fuel, and Monster Energy Ultra (three SKUs generated a total of $268.2 million in first-year sales) and Red Bull Total Zero ($139.1 million first-year sales) enjoyed strong performances for responding to that need. They landed in the Nos. 1 and 2 slots, respectively, on the 2013 c-store Pacesetters list.

A different trend topped the multi-outlet ranking— consisting of sales at supermarkets, drug stores, mass-market retailers, military commissaries and select club and dollar retail chains. Here, the two leaders reflect the demand for protein-laden yogurts. Interestingly, these products—Dannon Light & Fit Greek yogurt with $144.9 million in sales, and Yoplait Greek 100 with $135.1 million in sales—failed to land in the c-store top 20, likely indicating distribution gaps and that yogurt has not yet joined convenience retailers’ core-category sanctum.

Beyond the continuing quests for energy and protein, what’s on the minds of CPG companies as they nourish and nurture their ideation engines? Let Susan Viamari, editor of IRI’s Times & Trends and co-author of the 2013 New Product Pacesetters report, lead the way.

CONTINUED: Anti-Silo Mentality


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