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New Product Pacesetters: 'Healthier-for-you' inspires bountiful year-one sales

A mind-boggling 190,000 new UPCs were launched into the market by CPG companies in 2013. In the Darwinian fight for survival on retail shelves, that's a huge pool of competition, so one can easily see how the top 10 "New Product Pacesetters," as established by IRI's extensive analysis, can provide important lessons on what to do right.

There were in fact over 9,500 new brand launches behind all that new UPC activity last year. The investment in R&D and marketing from CPGs was considerable — and seemingly worth it (at least for many) as those items accounted for an estimated 15 percent of total product movement in 2013. In addition to sales performance, there are myriad benefits to the introduction of new items for both brands and retailers. As IRI puts it, "New products bring excitement, buzz and competitive advantage. They establish and protect category leadership. They break into entirely new categories."

For those who thought "healthier-for-you" would be a fad, there's news: it's got legs. In 2013, seven out of the top 10 food and beverage launches as tracked by IRI connected with consumers based at least partially on better-living messages.

For the second year straight, Dannon grabbed top honors among IRI's Pacesetters, this year with Light & Fit Greek — one of three yogurt lines in the top 10.

Three other top launches with healthier-for-you cred were marketed by PepsiCo, including Pepsi NEXT with "60% less sugar."

Innovative product technology is another thread running through successful first-year products. In the case of K-Cup technology, IRI sees another product attribute with staying power. For the fourth straight year, a single-cup coffee launch made the list.

While total CPG growth from 2011 -2013 is estimated at 4.6 percent by IRI, the coffee and tea sector shot up close to 15 percent during the period, driven in large measure by K-Cup technology. In fact, last year, one-quarter of beverage Pacesetter dollars were generated by coffee and tea innovation, supported heavily by the near-$90 million launch of Eight O'Clock K-Cups.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT FROM IRI for a deep dive into the minds of the U.S. shopper, married with insights from IRI's New Product Pacesetters, the most successful packaged goods launches of 2013.

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