BASES, a Nielsen Global Consumer Business, released its 2020 US BASES Top 25 Breakthrough Innovations List. While COVID-19 will have an enduring and profound impact on the consumer packaged goods industry, one thing that cannot be overlooked is the role that innovation plays today and in the new normal that emerges. Consumer needs and priorities are evolving, just as they did before COVID-19, clearing the way for new innovation to happen. And manufacturers are answering this demand. In fact, the company sees a strong number of innovation ideas being tested by BASES, signaling a bounce back following a dip in the early months of the pandemic. Learning from those who got it right, like this year’s BASES Top 25 Breakthrough Innovations, could help more of these new product ideas succeed.

As the competition for consumer attention in-store and online intensifies, this year’s Breakthrough Innovations have won consumers’ hearts and minds through ingenuity, marketing savvy, and expert-level decision-making.

“This year’s winners have attained the elusive recipe for product innovation success: good idea plus good product plus good activation. A fine line separates risk, resilience, and reward, and all of these winners have navigated each of these flawlessly,” says Ben Macedo, leader of BASES, North America.

So how did the winners identify the right idea and break the mold in marketing activation?

Several of this year’s winners extended their brand by expanding when and how it is consumed. Risks in extending an established brand exist and need to be managed carefully. Up to 25% of new product launches shrink an existing brand franchise. The key to success is balancing the core essence of their brand heritage with communication about the new product and consumption occasion it addresses. Still other winners broke the mold by enlisting out-of-the-box development and activation. They utilized marketing and promotional tactics in the places where their new consumers are, but their brands haven’t typically gone.

“To compete today, marketers are employing diverse strategies for innovation. A few of these strategies include disrupting the category, fending off competitive pressure, or targeting a highly-engaged core target of consumers. These varied approaches have yielded important changes to the market, and BASES Top 25 Breakthrough Innovations celebrates not just the big bets, but all of these impactful and highly successful innovations,” says Macedo.

As we look at trends today that are creating the breakthrough innovations of tomorrow, a few notable themes emerge. The first is addressing the disruption that COVID-19 has spawned. The Homebody Economy sees consumers bringing convenience in-home to replicate out-of-the home experiences.

Somewhat related to the Homebody Economy is the hold that health & wellness has on consumers. When asked how enduring the changes in their purchase behavior for health products will be, nearly a third of US consumers anticipate it lasting for the next six months or more.

Lastly, the interest in cannabis is expanding, due in part to new legalities. US sales of Hemp-CBD products are expected to grow more than 3.5x from 2020-2025, exposing new opportunities for brand innovation and forcing category leaders to play smart offense. Although much remains to be seen about the post COVID-19 new normal, one thing we can be sure of is that innovation continues to be a key driver of business growth and viability.


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