Beverages Lead Most Successful C-store New Product Launches in 2021

IRI releases its annual New Product Pacesetters report.
drinking from can

CHICAGO — The unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic drove changes in shoppers' behavior during 2021, with demand for at-home consumer packaged goods (CPG) products remaining strong as time away from home started to increase, according to IRI's 2021 New Product Pacesetters report.

Each year, IRI analyzes the top food and nonfood CPG brand launches. IRI New Product Pacesetters provide a glimpse into what is resonating most with consumers and the trends CPG manufacturers and retailers should watch for success moving forward. This is IRI's 27th annual New Product Pacesetters report.

Six of the top 10 Pacesetters in food and beverage included bubbles, in both alcohol and non-alcohol categories, reflecting consumers' desires to socialize at home. Among nonfoods, top Pacesetters reflect the importance of a clean home and healthy body.

Several new beer, wine and spirits products delivered interesting flavor experiences, including Corona Hard Seltzer (No. 3), High Noon Sun Sips (No. 4) and Truly Iced Tea (No. 6). Four of the top 10 Pacesetters in the space were hard seltzers or premixed cocktails.

A record 46 beverages made the top 100 list in 2021 and eight of the top 10 Pacesetters are beverages, with six being carbonated drinks.

The Top 10 Food and Beverage New Product Pacesetters for 2021 are:

  1. Dr Pepper & Cream Soda
  2. AHA Sparkling Water
  3. Corona Hard Seltzer
  4. High Noon Sun Sips
  5. Oatly
  6. Truly Iced Tea
  7. Michelob ULTRA Organic Seltzer
  8. Impossible Burger
  10. Minute Maid Zero Sugar

Beverages also led the most successful convenience store new product launches last year. The top 10 c-store Pacesetters are:

  1. Truly Lemonade
  2. Dr Pepper & Cream Soda
  3. Corona Hard Seltzer
  4. on!
  5. Rogue
  6. Truly Iced Tea
  7. Michelob ULTRA Organic Seltzer
  8. Java Monster 300
  9. Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew
  10. Jack Link's Cold Crafted

In nonfood, top Pacesetters focused on home cleaning and personal cleanliness, while innovative manufacturers leveraged interest in cleanliness to extend their product lines. For example, Suave evolved its established personal care brand and pushed into hand sanitizers, the No. 8 spot among nonfood Pacesetters. It also expanded a new subcategory of hand care with soaps and gels that don’t damage hands but are effective with Suave Essentials Hand Soap, which earned the No. 49 position. Clorox introduced No. 26 Clorox Laundry Sanitizer, a bleach-free additive that "kills 99% of bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19."

The top 10 Nonfood New Product Pacesetters for 2021 are:

  1. Microban 24
  2. Voltaren
  3. Swan
  4. Hello Bello
  5. Goli Nutrition
  6. Dawn Platinum Powerwash
  7. Tide Hygienic Clean
  8. Suave Hand Sanitizer
  9. Febreze LIGHT
  10. Wipe Out!

"This year's New Product Pacesetters successfully ran the gauntlet of powering through a pandemic that first caused people to hunker down at home, and then start socializing in public again, only to hunker down again late in the year," said Joan Driggs, vice president, Content and Thought Leadership, IRI. "COVID-19 generated trends that both helped and hindered growth trajectories. In-home stockups eased from 2020 levels, while concurrently, interest in new products representing beverages, frozen convenience foods, household goods and self-care resulted in healthy growth."

IRI's 2021 New Product Pacesetters report is available here.

Chicago-based IRI is a global leader in innovative solutions and services for consumer, retail and media companies.