Top-selling new products of 2012: IRI Reveals Annual New Product Pacesetters

The product analyst group finds consumer-centric innovation is driving revenue growth for CPG marketers.

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

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In a year in which Greek yogurt hit full stride, Dannon Co., arguably a latecomer to that market niche, had the biggest-selling new product of 2012. Another breakfast product aimed at another new niche, Starbucks K-Cups, was a distant but significant second.

Dannon Oikos sold $283.8 million in first-year sales and the Starbucks pods for the popular Keurig coffee makers recorded $198.9 million in year-one sales. Bud Light Platinum – no comment on its applicability to breakfast – hit $162.2 million. All that is according to Information Resources Inc. and its annual New Product Pacesetters report, which was released at the Chicago market data firm's annual IRI Summit in April.

See the sidebar for the full list. It's always difficult, for IRI and us, to throw a ring around this group, but we see a lot of novelty in there (frozen cocktails in pouches, water-flavoring drops, self-inflating popcorn bowls, K-cups and – are you tired of it yet? – Greek yogurt).

"Behaviors displayed by many of today's shoppers reflect the economy at large: feeling more optimistic about their prospects, but holding onto the frugal mindsets and practices left over from the recession," says Larry Levin, IRI's executive vice president and general manager-Insights and Thought Leadership. "This year's New Product Pacesetters results bring these seemingly contradictory behaviors to life and demonstrate the power that consumer-centric innovation has in driving revenue growth for CPG marketers.

"It is not surprising that consumers continue on a relentless pursuit for value. They simply have no money to waste on products that do not provide value," he continues. "It's critical for CPG marketers to understand, though, that value does not necessarily mean cheap. In the end, value means different things to different consumers, and it means different things across different categories. But, a fair summary of value is a product that effectively meets consumers' needs at a reasonable price tag. Simply, a product that does something to enrich one's life."

In 2011-2012, the era when these 2012 Pacesetters would have been born, nearly 1,900 new consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands hit retail shelves across the U.S. multi-outlet geography, which includes traditional grocery, drug and mass market retailers, as well as sales from dollar and club channels, Walmart and military commissaries, the report begins. "Only 11 percent of those launches met the stringent, industry-recognized benchmarks of exceptional first-year sales success required to achieve 2012 New Product Pacesetter status."

The 200 top-selling CPG launches of the year, which make up IRI's broader definition of New Product Pacesetters, each captured more than $13 million in year-one sales, with an individual average of $39.5 million in first-year revenues. Food and beverage products did a little better, averaging year-one sales (for the top-100 brands) of $43.4 million.

(The Pacesetters include non-food brands, primarily health and beauty products. While food and beverage products tend to outsell non-food products, it's worth noting 2012's ultimate best-selling new brand was allergy medicine Allegra, with sales of $342.6 million.)

"New food and beverage brands addressed long-standing trends around wellness, indulgence and convenience," the report says. "Importantly, though, the most powerful launches of the year also delivered more to today's finicky, frugal and fast-moving consumers. They provide new options that serve cross-occasion eating behaviors, support proactive wellness efforts and satisfy desires for intelligent indulgence."

"IRI's 2012 Pacesetters are best-in-class products that have truly beaten the daunting new product odds," says Levin. "In fact, the manufacturers of these Pacesetter brands showed a quiet resolve and determination to stimulate growth despite a challenging economic environment in 2012."

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