Consumer trends within the food & beverage sector indicate consumers are shifting toward products that encompass convenient indulgence and wellness. Many consumers tried to eat healthier, trading soda for sports drinks or waters, and replaced junk food with healthier options, so the most powerful products were those connected with health and wellness. According to SymphonyIRI's 2011 Consumer Snacking Study, 71 percent of consumers are trying to eat healthier, and prefer more nutrients in their new products, and fewer less desirable attributes.
On the wellness front, 30 percent of Pacesetters launches (including Chobani, Wonderful Pistachios and Nature's Pride bread) offer natural and/or organic ingredients. Other popular benefits in these new products:
- 27 percent offer added vitamins/nutrients and high fiber/whole-grain benefits
- 25 percent are reduced calorie and lower fat/fat-free launches
- 12 percent provide energy/protein benefits
- 11 percent include antioxidants
- 10 percent offer no trans fat
- 6 percent are low salt/sodium.
Not surprisingly, many 2010 Pacesetters offer two or more of those benefits.
Buitoni Riserva pasta, Alouette Natural Crumbled cheese and Healthy Choice All Naturals are examples of successful products sticking close to nature. Also capturing the wellness dollars were Dannon Activia, a low-fat yogurt with fiber and cereal; Wheaties Fuel, with whole grains, B vitamins and fiber to curb hunger; and Progresso High Fiber Ready to Serve, with fiber in a reduced-calorie, low-fat soup.
Breakfast solutions represent one-third of Pacesetter dollars in 2010, up from a historical trend of 23 percent, including a strong performance by yogurt (seven of 32 products). Salty snacks innovation accounts for nearly 25 percent, more than doubling its historical trend of 9 percent, and capitalizes on growth opportunities in satiety, health and wellness, value and sustainability.
Four of the 12 new launches in the juices, milks & water segment were healthier-for-you milks, including Silk Almond Milk. Also doing well were products such as Apple & Eve Fruitables, a fruit and veggie juice targeting the youth market; Yoplait Smoothie, a quick and easy frozen yogurt drink; and YoCrunch 100 Calorie Cup, which takes the guesswork out of calorie counting. As for indulgent beverages, Kool-Aid Fun Fizz, fruit-flavored tablets that fizz in water, is an innovation. Home-based indulgences such as single-cup coffees by Newman's Own and Green Mountain are hot.
Convenience is a long-standing and well-entrenched trend; in fact, an expectation, often playing a secondary role to newer and/or evolving desires. One-third of consumers eat snacks in place of meals today, and 30 percent seek snacks that can be eaten on the go.
Innovation around bite-sized and hand-held foods and beverages escalated sharply last year, accounting for one-quarter of new successful launches. In the gum/candy category, bite-sized products, such as Hershey's Pieces and Skittles Crazy Cores, offer convenience and excitement to the snack occasion. Del Monte Fruit Chillers and Dove Bar Miniatures address healthier and more indulgent. Hot Pocket SideShots and DiGiorno Flatbread Melts add convenience in both snacks and meals for the on-the-go consumer.
Innovation in taste and variety is very hot, bringing fun and excitement to everyday eating occasions. Stouffer's Easy Express line includes a wide range of meals. Doritos Late Night tortilla chips offers great crunch and fun for snackers, Special K Fruit Crisps satisfy your sweet tooth without derailing healthier eating efforts. Texture innovation – ranging from thick and creamy to crispy and crunchy -- was apparent in nearly one-quarter of new products.
Old is new again with the launch of Pepsi Throwback and Mountain Dew Throwback. Smashing successes, these products are made with real sugar, and the packaging and taste appeal to consumers' nostalgic side and capture their "taste for the past."
Although consumers tightened their belts on indulgent products, those options certainly have not gone away. In fact, consumers still are willing to purchase treats occasionally, and candy and gum launches represent 11 percent of Pacesetter dollars, versus a 6 percent average in prior years.
But consumers are still quite cautious. They do not want to waste money on an unknown new product that may disappoint. It's notable that in 2010, pantries held fewer products (369 SKUs versus 404 in 2007), which underscores the urgency for products with maximum relevancy for impact.
So congratulations to the 2010 Pacesetters. And don't forget to let Rollout know when you have a new product coming out – e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.