IRI Gets Trendy

Annual Pacesetters list offers glimpse in direction for future new products

SAN FRANCISCO -- In the seven years that Information Resources Inc. (IRI) has been conducting its New Products Pacesetters analysis, it has offered much valuable data, including the bestselling new products from the past year and insight into which more-recently introduced products are expected to see continued growth.

This year, however, when the new products expert Valerie Skala Walker offered here analysis of the food, drug and mass-merchandiser data during the Chicago-based company's Reinventing CPG & Retail Summit 2006 in San Francisco, [image-nocss] she also offered some predictions of where trends in various categories will likely head.

"The difference between a trend and a fad is how long it lasts," Walker said. "We're talking about the same trends this year as last year, but what's different is how those trends are evolving and playing out in the marketplace. For example, consumers keep raising the bar on the definition of convenience, and manufacturers keep responding."

The top 10 food and beverage brands on the 2005 Pacesetters list and each brand's sales for the year in food, drug and mass merchandise stores (excluding Wal-Mart) played out this way:

1.) Slim-Fast Optima diet line: $166 million

2.) Budweiser Select beer: $123 million

3.) Frito-Lay Light salty snacks: $112 million

4.) Nabisco 100 Calorie Packs: $107 million

5.) Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper soda: $107 million

6.) Kraft Carb Well multi-category line: $89 million

7.) Bertolli Dinner for Two frozen skillet dinners: $88 million

8.) Gatorade Lemonade: $80 million

9.) Coke C2 mid-calorie cola: $77 million

10.) Banquet Crock-Pot Classics frozen dinners: $71 million

And the top five Pacesetters-to-be, that is more-recently introduced products that are expected to make the 2006 Pacesetters list, include:

1.) Kraft South Beach diet meals

2.) Dreyer's/Edy's Slow Churn ice cream

3.) Coke Zero

4.) Pepsi & Diet Pepsi with Lime

5.) Diet Coke with Lime

While these lists offer a glimpse at product innovation that caught consumers' attention, perhaps more importantly they, along with reviews of the past seven years of data, have provided Walker with enough information to predict what trends might come next. Among those Walker expects to see in the next five years are:

More convenient meal solutions for large and small households. In the near future, these will include better nutrition, chef-inspired recipes and faster preparation.

Healthier eating goals lead to an increase in natural and organic products. Manufacturers will highlight the origins (country or state), purity and authenticity of their products as organic becomes synonymous with gourmet.

More whole grains; fewer bad fats. More foods will offer only good fats, while also providing slowly absorbed carbohydrates and increased fiber.

Better nutrition per calorie in food and snacks. Expect to see fortification in new categories, new nutritional additives for brain power and more antioxidants.

Some occasions will create cravings and demand indulgence. This means more extensions of indulgent brands, such as Dove's entry into ice cream.

Evolution of convenience products and packaging. Retailers can expect to see more packaged produce with longer shelf lives and some major packaging innovations.

Light/reduced calories in beverages. Better-for-you won't necessarily mean less flavor.

Increased flavors and feelings. Expect more super fruits, such as acai. Retailers also will see more grapefruit, mint, herbal and floral flavors and scents.

The 2005 New Product Pacesetters list includes 132 food and 120 nonfood brands. To qualify for the list, a brand must have been introduced between February 2004 and January 2005, so that it had a full 52 weeks of sales data by December 2005, and must have achieved at least $7.5 million in first-year retail sales in the food, drug and mass outlets excluding Wal-Mart.

Meanwhile, at the summit, IRI announced the winners of the 2006 Global CPG & Retail Excellence Awards, which honor CPG manufacturing and retailing companies leveraging new and innovative ways to see market opportunities they were unable to see before, acting faster with greater confidence and winning at the retail shelf. These companies are transforming their organizations or products through applications of business performance management, consumer and shopper insights or technology. The winners of the four industry best practice awards were:

Business Transformation of the Year: Campbell Soup for its transformation plan to leverage its brands to meet the changing needs of consumers and customers. Consumer or Competitive Insights Reinvention of the Year: McNeil Consumer Healthcare for completely transforming its marketing research function by translating data into competitive insights. Manufacturer Innovation of the Year: Procter & Gamble for innovatively creating and measuring the P&G brandSAVER program that ties coupon activities across dozens of brands to trade and consumer response. Retailer Innovation of the Year: CVS for successfully acquiring and converting 1,000 former Eckerd stores in record-breaking time.

Also, Dr. Romesh Wadhwani, chairman of IRI and Symphony Technology Group, presented the 2006 IRI Chairman's Awards, which honor creativity, the willingness to take risks, achievement of measurable results and breakthrough learnings for the industry, were presented to:

ConAgra Foods for its continued work to gain a more complete understanding of how marketing efforts impact usage and purchase behavior and its sponsorship of a unique consumer usage pilot, which explored the link between IRI Consumer Network Panel purchase information and in-home product usage trends. Costco for the successful pilot and subsequent full-scale roll out of the Costco CRX program, which allows its manufacturer partners to access and use Costco's data in a structured, collaborative platform that reflects Costco's unique category and geography definitions. Diageo for implementing a comprehensive planning management solution on the IRI Business Performance Management (BPM) platform for a consistent planning approach across its U.S. market. Masterfoods USA for implementing a cross-channel, transaction-level consumer and shopping insights information resource using IRI BPM technology.