IRI headlines the list of 2019’s top new products as “the return of the blockbuster product launch.” Six new food and beverage products sold more than $100 million last year, as did four in the nonfood and beverage category, the first time there were this many $100 million first-year products since 2012.
Beverages grabbed the top four spots -- Bang, Enfamil NeuroPro, Gatorade G Zero and Bubly in order, and Corona Premier came in sixth. Sandwiched in between was Arnold/Brownberry/Oroweat Sandwich Thins at No. 5, selling $103 million.
But IRI also noted some smaller (less than $1 billion in total sales) companies placed items on the 25th annual New Product Pacesetters list, including Kodiak Cakes Power Waffles and chickpea-based Banza noodles.
Market research firm IRI for years has been tracking the new product launches in all consumer packaged goods (CPGs) categories. We're focusing just on the food and beverage products. To be considered for Pacesetters, the product must complete a full year of sales sometime during 2019.
2019 New Product Pacesetters: Top 10 Food and Beverage Brands
- Bang® $299.4
- Enfamil® NeuroPro™ $230.5
- G® Zero™ $154.4
- Bubly™ $116.3
- Arnold®/Brownberry®/Oroweat® Sandwich Thins™ $103.2
- Corona® Premier $101.8
- Cheez-It® Snap’d™ $88.7
- SlimFast® Keto $76.2
- Perdue® Simply Smart® Organics $70.7
- Pop-Tarts® Bites $68.3
IRI starts tracking year-one sales after a product reaches 30 percent of national distribution across multi-outlet geography. So probably every product’s “first year” begins on a different date but ends some time in 2019. IRI counts sales in grocery, drug, mass, dollar stores, club and convenience store channels.
“It’s not just that these products eclipsed the monumental $100 million plateau, but this year’s 10 $100 million-plus launches account for 33% of all Pacesetter dollars, accentuating that big is back,” said Joan Driggs, vice president of content and thought leadership for IRI.
Nevertheless, in 2019, 53% of New Product Pacesetters came from small companies (less than $1 billion in sales). Small companies are typically able to innovate quickly, demonstrate flexibility and act faster than their larger counterparts.
While smaller brands have smaller budgets and typically rely on nontraditional media outlets, big brands dedicated 25-30% of sales dollars to advertising. For example, Gatorade G Zero saw $154 million in multioutlet sales in 2019 and spent $39.5 million on advertising, according to Kantar Media reports. In contrast, the No. 1 new food and beverage, Bang Energy drinks, spent $2,200 on traditional media but generated almost $300 million in multioutlet sales.
So you’re forgiven if you don’t recognize Bang. It’s an energy drink made by Vital Pharmaceuticals Inc.
IRI called Enfamil NeuroPro a revolutionary baby formula that features milk fat globule membrane, which is found in breast milk and supports cognitive development in brain structure and function. “This one-of-a-kind baby formula is the first major scientific enhancement in the baby formula market since DHA fortification became FDA approved more than two decades ago.”
2019 New Product Pacesetters: Top 10 Convenience Store Brands
- JUUL® $2,354.6
- Bang $723.6
- White Claw $344.8
- Vuse® Alto® $225.6
- Marlboro® Ice $189.0
- Red Bull® Coconut $141.3
- Vuse® Ciro® $136.7
- G® Zero™ $136.5
- Myblu™ $91.2
- Mtn Dew® Amp® Game Fuel® $86.3
“If only one thing is true about New Product Pacesetters year in and year out, it’s that the formula for a winning product, no matter the size of the company, is having the right product in the right place at the right time for the right consumer,” said Driggs. “This year’s New Product Pacesetters stand true to that testament, with both small and large brands achieving success thanks to smart distribution strategies and personalized targeted marketing initiatives.”
While 2018’s New Product Pacesetters’ top 10 primarily featured sweet and indulgent foods and beverages – including Kinder Joy, M&Ms Caramel, Lay’s Poppables and Duncan Hines Perfect Size for 1 – the 2019 list shifted toward natural, pure and non-GMO ingredients. In 2019, three of the top 10 and 25 of the top 100 food and beverage Pacesetters offered non-GMO benefits, with products including SlimFast Keto, Perdue Simply Smart Organics and Arnold/Brownberry/Oroweat
By the way, Blue Buffalo pet food as an overarching brand was No. 1 on the nonfood list.
IRI takes a separate look at new product hits in convenience stores. There eight of the top 10 C-store products broke the $100 million threshold, with e-cigarette Juul taking the top spot after achieving more than $2.4 billion in sales.
Bang was a distant second. Other food & beverage brands that placed in the C-store channel were White Claw, Red Bull Coconut, G Zero and Mtn Dew Amp Game Fuel.