Snacks & Candy

You've Got to Have 'Heart'

Winning over consumers, making 'better for you' easier to understand

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- In a breakout session entitled New Product Trends 2008 on Tuesday, the first full day of the 2008 IRI Reinventing CPG & Retail Summit, Anne Berlack, executive vice president of Information Resources Inc.'s Business & Consumer Insights, revealed 2007's top new products. And in both the nonfood and food and beverage areas, the preference for functional or nutritious or preventive products was as clear as water.

"These brands are case studies in how to surpass abysmally low new-product success rates in the CPG [consumer packaged goods] marketplace, where less than 5% of new brands reach $50 million in year one sales," said Berlack. "The New Product Pacesetters report highlights not only the brands that won over consumers, but also what distinguishes them from the thousands of other products available on store shelves today."

Bottled water topped the top growth category list (for all channels except Wal-Mart) for the sixth straight year, while ready-to-drink tea and coffee, granola/breakfast bars, energy drinks, yogurt and frozen vegetables all were in the top 10. Of the top 10 new products, three were functional/energy drinks, two were yogurt, while the rest were a light beer, a healthy bread, a fiber bar, frozen vegetables that can be steamed in the microwave and low-sodium soup.

The soup, by Campbell's, was the best-selling new product—over $101 million in first-year sales, a sign of what's to come very soon for a marketplace bursting with baby boomers concerned with their well-being. "It's the first of what we believe will be a major influx of low-sodium products," Berlack said. "We've taught people how to manage their fat intake, we've made everybody aware of trans fats, we've taught people how to manage their carbs, how to manage their calories, and now food manufacturers are about to start teaching people how to manage their salt."

Berlack showed products that IRI predicts will do well in the next year, and items following the healthy or functional theme included such brands as Healthy Choice, 100-calorie pack Twinkies and Pepsi Max. Energy drinks sales are still rising, but for the first time in four years, they made it into more households, as opposed to flat household penetration with higher consumption—more volume per household. There were six among the top 10 new beverages (a tea and two beers rounded out the list), as measured in c-stores.

Berlack stressed the beverage manufacturers' love affair with c-stores. "These are primarily 16-oz. and 20-oz. sales," she said. "It gives the manufacturers opportunities to put products in front of consumers that are not going to have enough volume to make it on a grocery-store shelf. Plus, the consumer they're going after is typically not going into a Stop & Shop, a Dominick's or a Publix to buy a single soda. This is an alternative new item entry channel. It's something we're starting to see, a lot of in-and-out stuff. You can launch something for a season, you can launch something for a year, and then replace it with another flavor next year."

She said retailers should watch for these trends to target their shelves: "More and more nutrition in food. All different ways of making food healthier and more able to deliver good nutrition, while it tastes good and while it's fun to eat. Making 'better for you' easier to understand. Trying to figure out the [food] pyramid, what you should eat for lunch, is not an easy thing, so the more food manufacturers can help people manage diets on the run, the more successful we as an industry are going to be."

An example is Frito-Lay's Sun Chips, which has not changed its ingredients, but has revamped its packaging to make the product's nutritional benefits more obvious. The word "multigrain" appears on the front of the bag either two or three times, depending on the flavor, while "18g," the amount of whole grain in each serving, is in the middle of a heart at the top of the bag. The back of the bag contains more healthy ingredients information.

"It's all about heart health," Berlack said. "'Heart' is going to be on every other package for the next five years. It's what happens when 75 million people get into their middle to late 50s."

Click herefor more details on the most successful new brands of 2007.

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