The Top-Selling New Products of 2009

SymphonyIRI's annual Pacesetters listing is full of brand extensions, as processors and consumers sought value.

By Diane Toops, News & Trends Editor

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Convenience still at the forefront
Convenience has been at the forefront of CPG new product development for many years. In 2009, 33 percent of New Product Pacesetters touted convenience-related features, compared with 25 percent in 2008.

Ore-Ida Steam n Mash is making a splash in an established category: frozen side dishes. To a large degree, though, convenience has become an expected yet secondary attribute across food & beverage products. Nabisco Munch Packs make from-home and on-the-go eating a breeze, and at 100 calories per pack, they are indulgent but don't completely derail the diet.

2009 Pacesetters; BenefitsHealth-conscious eaters need not compromise convenience any more. An array of products -- including Weight Watchers Smart Ones Morning Express and Birds Eye Steamfresh Meals -- provide a well-balanced meal in a very short time. Healthy comes in bite-size, too. Nabisco Newton Fruit Crisps are a 100-calorie snack made with real fruit. Gerber Graduate Yogurt Melts get toddlers off to a good start with 99 percent real yogurt and fruit combined with live and active cultures, and it's easy to chew and swallow.

Targeted innovation is becoming increasingly commonplace in CPG today; across food & beverage and non-foods segments of the industry, 80 percent of 2009 New Product Pacesetters bring added variety into the marketplace.

Strong growth continues in taste and variety innovation. The snack/granola bar category is a big beneficiary of efforts to bring excitement to health-conscious consumers. Top-10 performer Kellogg's FiberPlus is one example of healthy-but-fun. Atkins Day Break is another 2009 success story, providing a protein-packed start to the day for consumers focused on losing weight.

Juice categories are also getting a variety boost thanks to new ingredients and technologies. Refrigerated Tropicana Pure Valencia is 100 percent juice with unique flavor combinations, including Raspberry Acai and Pomegranate Blueberry. Capri Sun Sunrise juices come in three flavors, each boasting 100 percent of daily vitamin C and "a good source of calcium" in a convenient, aseptic pouch.

Taste is also important across indulgent and healthier products. M&M Premiums come in "five fabulous flavors" including triple chocolate, raspberry almond and mint chocolate. Meanwhile, Pepperidge Farms Baked Naturals offer indulgence for the health-conscious, with a savory treat.

Flavor combinations are also making eating more fun. Wrigley's Extra Fruit Sensations is a sugarless gum that comes in a variety of exciting fruit flavors, including island cooler and mango smoothie.

At-home, away-from-home
taste and varietyFood & beverage innovation was a bit lighter than in the past few years, but a majority of the most active categories maintained a fairly consistent pace. A notable decline, however, is seen in two categories: snack/granola bars and cold cereal. Each year since 2002, these categories have come to market with more than 10 New Product Pacesetter products. This year, numbers are down sharply.

At the other end of the spectrum are categories hitting it big with more new products versus historical trends. Frozen dinners/entrees and crackers are among these categories, key categories in consumers' at-home and away-from-home food rituals. From quick and easy meal solutions (Stouffer's Easy Express and Banquet's Select Recipes) to fun lunch-box treats (Pringle's Stix and Kraft Handi Snacks Dunk'ems), consumers are increasingly turning to CPG marketers to make mealtime simpler and more enjoyable.

Throughout 2010 and beyond, indications are that a majority of consumers will hold tight to recession-driven ritual changes, including at-home and from-home behaviors. Innovation in key categories will provide opportunity for growth despite economic uncertainty. 

One opportunity is in the convenience channel, a known destination for spontaneous and optional CPG purchases. In 2009, top-selling new products in the channel underscored consumers' quest for exciting and semi-targeted indulgences. Consumers seeking a light and refreshing spin on beer have new options in Bud Light Lime and MGD 64. Functional beverages, such as CytoSportMuscle Milk, and energy drinks, such as Rockstar Roasted and Venom Energy, are doing well in the channel. 

Congratulations to the 2009 Pacesetters, and best of luck to all new products in 2010.

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