Cover Story: Heat Seekers

The 20 new best sellers of 2013 reflect the trifecta of product trial

Inquiry to food and beverage marketers: Just what’s the mother of invention that underpins new-product innovation these days?

Is it pressure to innovate triggered by competition— you know, a case of me-too-ism? Is it motivated by opportunity from consumer behavioral shifts? Evolving retail-channel trends? Maybe it’s arbitrary: Let’s innovate this year because, why not?

The consumer packaged goods (CPG) innovation seen in 2013 is owed to all of the above, with a certain condition: Go with the flow. With consumers increasingly valuing continuous, mini-meal consumption while on the go, well, there’s your flow.

And what products win? Those that hit on one or more of the trifecta of new-product trial, according to Chicago-based Information Resources Inc. (IRI): excitement, indulgence and nutrition.

All told, 190,000 new UPCs hit shelves in 2013, accounting for an estimated 15% of total moving UPCs in the form of more than 9,500 new brand launches, according to IRI. Between 2011 and 2013, an estimated 30,000 new products landed on shelves across retail segments.

In March of this year, IRI released its latest Pacesetters roster, the top-selling new products based on year-one sales. The firm provided Convenience Store Products with an exclusive look at the top 20 new c-store products (it typically releases the top 10 publicly) with an analysis of what consumer, retailer and manufacturer habits are reflected within the ranking.

People continue to demand quick fuel, and Monster Energy Ultra (three SKUs generated a total of $268.2 million in first-year sales) and Red Bull Total Zero ($139.1 million first-year sales) enjoyed strong performances for responding to that need. They landed in the Nos. 1 and 2 slots, respectively, on the 2013 c-store Pacesetters list.

A different trend topped the multi-outlet ranking— consisting of sales at supermarkets, drug stores, mass-market retailers, military commissaries and select club and dollar retail chains. Here, the two leaders reflect the demand for protein-laden yogurts. Interestingly, these products—Dannon Light & Fit Greek yogurt with $144.9 million in sales, and Yoplait Greek 100 with $135.1 million in sales—failed to land in the c-store top 20, likely indicating distribution gaps and that yogurt has not yet joined convenience retailers’ core-category sanctum.

Beyond the continuing quests for energy and protein, what’s on the minds of CPG companies as they nourish and nurture their ideation engines? Let Susan Viamari, editor of IRI’s Times & Trends and co-author of the 2013 New Product Pacesetters report, lead the way.

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Monster Energy Ultra

1 MONSTER ENERGY ULTRA

First-year sales: $268.2 million

A lighter-textured, calorie- and sugar-free drink that offers the same energy boost as regular Monster.

Jan. to June 2014 unit sales at Stinker Stores: 59,666

"Solid product, displayed best side by side. All three flavors have helped boost category share for Monster Energy" --Ryan Razowsky, vice president of Rmarts LLC, Deerfield, Ill.

Red Bull Total zero

2 RED BULL TOTAL ZERO

First-year sales: $139.1 million

The legacy energy brand, now without calories, sugar or carbs.

Jan. to June 2014 unit sales at Stinker Stores:5,350

Marlboro Nxt

3 MARLBORO NXT

First-year sales: $117.9 million

NXT is a regular-to-menthol cigarette: One pinch of the filter releases a menthol taste.

Njoy electronic smoking devices

4 NJOY ELECTRONIC SMOKING DEVICES

First-year sales: $115.5 million

E-cigarette brand available in Traditional Bold and Gold and Menthol Bold and Gold Varieties.

Bud Light Lime-a-Rita

5 BUD LIGHT LIME LIME-A-RITA

First-year sales: $113.1 million

A margarita-flavored malt beverage available in 8-ounce and 24-ounce cans and 12-ounce bottles.

Jan. to June 2014 unit sales at Stinker Stores:2,896

Budweiser Black Crown Golden Amber Lager

6 BUDWEISER BLACK CROWN GOLDEN AMBER LAGER

First-year sales: $55.9 million

The new brew features more body, color and hop character than the flagship Budweiser lager.

"High-end indulgence without a high-end price tag that allows a consumer to conserve [cash] while also indulge.”--Susan Viamari, editor of IRI’s Times & Trends

Neuro Beverages

7 NEURO BEVERAGES

First-year sales: $52.1 million

The functional-drink line promises relaxation, energy and immunity through vitamins and nutrients.

"Energy drinks will continue to perform well into the near future, as people try to find a quick fix to assist them in their activity-packed lives.” --Tobie Dille, director of retail operations and marketing for Stinker Stores, Boise, Idaho

Pepsi Next

8 PEPSI NEXT

First-year sales: $ 31.1 million

This cola has 60 calories, about half that of a regular Pepsi, with a bolder flavor than Diet Pepsi.

"Sales have been steady. … [We] will keep it in our cold vault as long as the audience is there and Pepsi continues to push it.” --Ryan Razowsky, vice president of Rmarts LLC, Deerfield, Ill.

Doritos Jacked

9 DORITOS JACKED

First-year sales: $25.9 million

Doritos Jacked are 40% larger in size and thickness than traditional Doritos and deliver a one-two punch of intense flavors followed by a twist of spice or tanginess.

"It’s a crazy combination of flavors and textures. … Take the old and make it new and exciting.” --Susan Viamari, editor of IRI’s Times & Trends

Starbucks Refreshers

10 STARBUCKS REFRESHERS

First-year sales: $24.1 million

Fruity drinks with a punch of energy from green coffee extract.

"[Starbucks is] taking coffee and spinning it every which way to Sunday.” --Susan Viamari, editor of IRI’s Times & Trends

Ruffles Ultimate Potato Chips

11 RUFFLES ULTIMATE POTATO CHIPS

First-year sales: $23.8 million

This limited-time product that’s already off shelves had ultra-thick ridges and were co-branded with Ruffles dips.

Monster Energy Cuba-Lima

12 MONSTER CUBA-LIMA

First-year sales: $21.8 million

A non-alcoholic, energy-packed spin on the classic rum, cola and lime cocktail.

Jan. to June 2014 unit sales at Stinker Stores: 4,334

"Still relatively new to the vault. A wider range of similar flavors might help the whole rollout.” --Ryan Razowsky, vice president of Rmarts LLC, Deerfield, Ill.

Stride ID Sugarless Gum

13 STRIDE ID SUGARLESS GUM

First-year sales: $21.2 million

A sugar-free gum with a graphic portfolio pack that separates into two pocket packs.

Ice Breakers Duo Breath Freshener

14 ICE BREAKERS DUO BREATH FRESHENER

First-year sales: $14.8 million

Combines a sweet, fruity taste with refreshing, cooling crystals in two flavors: Strawberry and Raspberry.

"Above-average product; more flavors could help future sales. [We are] keeping it in our sets.” --Ryan Razowsky, vice president of Rmarts LLC, Deerfield, Ill.

Nature Valley Energy Bars

15 NATURE VALLEY ENERGY BARS

First-year sales: $11.8 million

A chewy and crunchy snack bar with loads of energy-boosting protein.

Jan. to June 2014 unit sales at Stinker Stores: 9,859

"From an operator standpoint, it is important that we offer our customers product choices that will fit their lifestyles.” --Tobie Dille, director of retail operations and marketing for Stinker Stores, Boise, Idaho

Belvita Breakfast Bars

16 BELVITA BREAKFAST BISCUITS

First-year sales: $10.8 million

Lightly sweet, whole-grain crunchy biscuits meant to sustain energy throughout the morning.

"Kids love them and they represent portable satiation. They really fill you up.”--Susan Viamari, editor of IRI’s Times & Trends

Lifesavers Gummies Collisions

17 LIFESAVERS GUMMIES COLLISIONS

First-year sales: $10.6 million

Brand extension features Raspberry Lemonade, Cherry Watermelon and Pineapple Punch flavor fusions.

Planters Nut-rition Mix

18 PLANTERS NUT-RITION MIX

First-year sales: $9.8 million

A variety of nut mixes serving unique functions, including heart health and men’s nutrition.

"It’s a textbook example of mixture and textures. Some of the mixtures are salty and some are not; it’s about differentiating, not emphasizing one thing.” --Susan Viamari, editor of IRI’s Times & Trends

Good Humor Reese's Ice Cream Cup

19 GOOD HUMOR REESE’S ICE CREAM CUP

First-year sales: $9.4 million

Peanut butter ice cream with a Reese’s Peanut Butter swirl dipped in a milk chocolate coating.

A no-brainer for extra sales in the ice-cream category. It taps into the loyal Reese’s following and touches nicely on peanut consumers looking for ice-cream options.” --Ryan Razowsky, vice president of Rmarts LLC, Deerfield, Ill.

Kellogg's Special K Cracker Chips

20 KELLOGG’S SPECIAL K CRACKER CHIPS

First-year sales: $7.9 million

Each bag includes 27 to 30 crispy Special K Cracker Chips at 110 calories per bag.

“Solid product with nice flavor profiles and well packaged. It’s staying in out sets; future variations could help build on the initial success.” --Ryan Razowsky, vice president of Rmarts LLC, Deerfield, Ill.