To sum up an entire year of new product introductions into one (hopefully) clever headline can prove difficult. In fact, the working title for this (truth be told, for the dairy article in this New Products Annual, as well) was initially “The Year of Yogurt.” Yogurt has crossed aisles and entered new categories. No longer solely in dairy products, it can now be found in beverages, dressings, snacks—even cereals.
NPD Group agrees; recently, its research found consumers are turning to yogurt across all eating occasions—breakfast, lunch, dinner and even between-meal snacks. While breakfast may remain the primary eating occasion (39% of yogurt eating occasions over the past five years), yogurt has firmly established itself in other dayparts: 20% of eating occasions are between-meal snacks; 19% are during lunch. Greek yogurt has emerged in smoothies, and Post Foods has announced it will appear in another breakfast staple: cereal. Honey Bunches of Oats Greek Honey Crunch will combine bunches of Greek yogurt, whole-grain flakes and honey.
Clearly, yogurt—Greek yogurt, in particular—has captured the public’s attention, so what lessons can be gleaned from its success? The allure of an inherently healthy, or at least somewhat nutritious, product cannot be underestimated. The consuming public may not have health and wellness front-and-center in all purchasing decisions, but when a product can blend health, wellness and an alluring flavor, ideally in a semi-decadent offering, it certainly won’t hurt a product’s chances.
Take a new coffee on the market from Tipton Mills which features probiotics (more on that in April’s “Hitting the Shelves”) and adds to the already healthy aura surrounding coffee. Furthermore, as mentioned in the beverages article in this New Products Annual, tea and coffee have seen numerous studies touting their healthful benefits, as have both dark and milk chocolate. A product blending health and indulgence couldn’t ask for a better foundation than coffee or chocolate.
Even sodas, nearly pilloried in the media and facing legislative restrictions, have ventured into healthful territory, and not merely in the low-calorie, weight-management arena, though new sweeteners added a variety to that particular segment. While the more functional sodas may not be on U.S. shelves yet, they could well be an indication of what is to come.
Merging function, health and the familiar? It might not be as challenging as finding the Holy Grail, and it would be a consumer’s dream come true.