Alani Nu was indeed new but most of the top-selling new products of the past year were familiar brand extensions – such as Dr Pepper Zero Sugar, Truly Punch and Gatorlyte. Judging by those names, and those of five other top-10 new products, beverage products dominated new product introductions in the grocery store. And even moreso in the convenience store.
Those are some of the topline observations from Circana’s annual New Product Pacesetters report. While the report may be familiar – “they” have been doing it for 28 years – the research company’s name may not be. Circana is the new name for the August 2022 merger of Information Resources Inc. (IRI), which annually created this report, with NPD Group.
Circana said the list “illustrates the enduring power of CPG innovation.” But heavily populated by new names or new flavors for old brands, it looks more like a lesson in how simple formulation tweaks and marketingspeak can spell success. And don’t blame Circana; the list is based on first-year sales data of new products.
Only two non-beverages made the top-10 grocery store list: Chick-fil-A Sauces from Lancaster Colony and frozen entrees from Tattooed Chef. The C-store list was all beverages. Last year’s grocery report had the Impossible Burger and Nestle’s Life Cuisine; Jack Link’s Cold Crafted meat snack made the C-store list.
The list “reveals consumer spending on new products remained elevated last year despite high inflation, supply chain adjustments and ingredient costs,” Circana wrote. Some other observations from the market research firm:
- The 2022 New Product Pacesetters reached $6.8 billion in combined year-one sales across food, beverage, and nonfood solutions, compared to $6 billion in 2021 Pacesetter sales.
- Plant-based offerings have a major presence in the [larger] 2022 lineup. Plant-based food and beverages represented $411 million in sales, more than doubling the number of Pacesetter products and dollar sales in the past three years.
- Nearly one-third of shoppers stated the importance of purchasing products from trustworthy brands and manufacturers [apparently from a subsequent Circana survey]. Over the past decade, the number of licensed food and beverage products on the Pacesetters list has tripled, reaching $242 million in 2022.
- Carbonated beverages, sports and energy drinks represented 27% of total food and beverage Pacesetters. Consumers are looking for more than a quick energy boost. They also desire products offering functional health benefits and unique flavors.
- More dollar sales came from medium-sized companies, a first in recent years. While medium-sized companies delivered 28% of Pacesetter products, they represented 35% of Pacesetter dollars, up nearly 15 ppts from 2021.
What makes a Pacesetter?
Although only the top-10 lists are featured, Circana tracks hundreds of products as they are introduced. They begin tracking year-one sales after a product achieves 30% national distribution across multi-outlet geography, and it must maintain 30% distribution or higher at the date of year-one completion. And the product must complete a full year of sales in calendar year 2022.
Read the full Circana report here.
Circana also lists products that were quick out of the starting gate sometime in the past 12 months but haven’t seen a full year of distribution or met other criteria to qualify them for Pacesetter status; but they’re likely to end up on next year’s list (no sales figures were provided):