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IRI New Product Pacesetters: Quick, Easy, But Not Boring, Please

John McIndoe, IRI Executive Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer

IRI’s food and beverage New Product Pacesetters™ illustrate that top CPG brands have captured consumers’ hard-earned dollars because they deliver on high expectations.

Consumers want it all! They want quick, easy, convenient food and beverage products that fit into their lifestyles, but they also want indulgent, exciting and enticing products. Responding to these high demands, IRI’s 2017 food and beverage Pacesetters feature many indulgent items with rich flavors and extravagant ingredients, but they also come in convenient packaging with easy-to-consume contents.

Many of the 2017 food and beverage Pacesetters make common household consumables — ice cream, crackers, water, cookies — anything but common. They have healthy profiles yet also indulgent flavors, and they reflect consumers’ desires to take care of themselves without depriving themselves. Across food and beverage, as well as non-food, today’s most successful new products underscore the power of innovation by fusing benefits that simplify and enhance consumers’ lives, while providing something they enjoy eating or using.


More Than Half Provide Indulgence

The top 100 food and beverage Pacesetters made a significant mark, driving huge sales in addition to great consumer and social media buzz. Median year-one sales were $14.5 million, excluding outlier Halo Top ($342.2 million). This is an increase versus last year, when median sales (also excluding an outlier number-one launch) were $11.4 million. The dollar figure was strengthened by the $87-million launch of Nabisco Good Thins, a baked cracker that offers crispy, crunchy satisfaction without artificial colors, flavors, cholesterol, high-fructose corn syrup, or partially hydrogenated oils. It’s a classic cracker, but so much better, with great taste and a clean profile.

The top-two food launches clearly reflect consumer desires for indulgence, but also healthy, clean food. The most powerful launches of 2017 definitely reflect this balance — more than half (53 percent) of food and beverage Pacesetters offer indulgent experiences. Increasingly common across NPP brands are launches that strike a balance between wellness and indulgence. Healthier-for-you indulgences are most prevalent among today’s new food and beverage powerhouses.

Consumers want to eat healthfully, but they have shown they also look for treats and sweets. Candy and gum account for nine percent of food and beverage Pacesetter dollars, in line with trends seen during the past five years. The largest launch in this area is Hershey’s Cookie Layer Crunch, milk chocolate bars with a shortbread cookie crunch and creamy fillings, providing taste and texture experiences in a hand-held form.