April 17/Chicago/Business Wire -- SymphonyIRI Group announced the most successful food and beverage and non-foods consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands in its "2011 New Product Pacesetters" report, an industry-recognized benchmark analysis of exceptional first-year CPG sales success for newly launched products. New products are the lifeblood of the CPG industry, reinforced by the fact that, despite prolonged economic difficulties, 22% of consumers are always looking for new products to try.

"The Pacesetters of today, having beaten the new product odds regardless of a difficult and complex environment, are truly remarkable," says Larry Levin, executive vice president, Consumer Insights, SymphonyIRI. "It all begins with really listening and responding to consumers. Those manufacturers that are taking the time to gain an intimate knowledge of the needs and wants of their consumers are cracking the code on true innovation."

Many of today's most powerful launches hail from the industry's biggest and most well-rooted manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo. However, there also is an increasing trend toward manufacturers, big and small, bringing highly targeted new products, such as the new, extensive line of gluten-free products from Udi's Gluten Free Foods. Both long-established manufacturers and newcomers to the game are providing innovation that is setting the stage for the CPG world of tomorrow.

"With the growing presence and power of social media, as well as the potential to innovate freely and creatively, the 'go-to-market' playing field is a bit more level than it has been in the past," says Susan Viamari, editor, Times & Trends, SymphonyIRI. "Many of today's most powerful launches are quite targeted and this trend is ultimately changing the definition of successful innovation. Big or little, CPG manufacturers with a laser-like focus on true marketplace needs, at an increasingly granular level, will be the ones to enjoy new product success in the years to come."

The ranks of the best-selling food and beverage launches of 2011 illustrate the fervor with which consumers are seeking pizzazz in their daily diet. From restaurant quality ingredients and recipes to unexpected textures and flavor combinations, this pizzazz is coming to market in many forms. For instance, the candy and gum sector experienced high levels of innovation in 2011, with successful launches accounting for 19% of food New Product Pacesetters dollars. These products play to a range of key snacking trends, including satiation, healthy eating, indulgence and on-the-go consumption.

The ritual of home-based eating has really driven the need for products that offer quick and easy meal solutions and provide the variety, comfort and/or restaurant quality that consumers need at a solid value. In fact, according to SymphonyIRI's "Q1 2012 MarketPulse" survey, 55% of consumers are eating out less frequently today versus before the downturn began. This opportunity has been addressed and capitalized on by today's most savvy manufacturers, evidenced by the fact that successful dinner solution launches became more numerous versus historical averages in 2011.

 2011 New Product Pacesetters: Top 10 Food and Beverage Brands ($ millions)
(Total Year-One Dollar Sales across Food, Drug, and Mass Channels, excluding Walmart)
P.F. Chang's Home Menu  - $101.6
Thomas' Bagel Thins - $73.6
Oscar Mayer Selects  - $69.2
Folgers Gourmet Selections K-Cups  - $58.4
M&M'S Pretzel  - $58.4
Sun Drop  - $55.8
Kellogg's Special K Cracker Chips  - $50.6
LEAN CUISINE Market Creations - $48.6
Gold Peak Chilled Tea  - $44.3
BAILEYS Coffee Creamer  - $44.2
Source: SymphonyIRI New Product Profiler

"We're also seeing a lot of innovation activity in the coffee and tea sector, which is being driven heavily by the proliferation of single-cup coffee brands, designed for the new Keurig coffee machines," adds Levin. "For the year, nine coffee and tea innovations achieved New Product Pacesetter status, versus an historic average of four per year between 2002 and 2011."

 From the April 18, 2012, Prepared Foods’ Daily News