Nielsen Details How New Products Become Breakthrough Innovators

NEW YORK – Although high new-product failure rates lead some to believe that success is random and unpredictable, Nielsen's 2014 U.S. Breakthrough Innovation winners show that adopting certain principles leads to consistent success, sustained growth and increased organizational confidence, according to the new Nielsen Breakthrough Innovation Report.

This year's winning products all launched in 2012 and met the standards for distinctiveness, relevance and endurance. They are:

  • Angry Orchard Hard Cider, The Boston Beer Co.
  • Barcel Takis, Barcel USA
  • Bud Light Lime-A-Rita, Anheuser-Busch
  • Depend Silhouette Briefs for Women and Depend Real Fit Briefs for Men, Kimberly-Clark Corp.
  • Febreze Car Vent Clip, Procter & Gamble Co.
  • Gevalia Kaffe Retail Coffee, Kraft Foods Group
  • International Delight Iced Coffee, The WhiteWave Foods Co.
  • Meow Mix Tender Centers, Big Heart Pet Brands
  • Mucinex Fast-Max, Reckitt Benckiser
  • Nabisco belVita Breakfast Biscuits, Mondelez Global LLC
  • Nature Valley Protein Bars, General Mills Inc.
  • Sargento Ultra Thin Slices, Sargento Foods
  • Tide Pods, Procter & Gamble Co.
  • ZzzQuil, Procter & Gamble Co.

Several of these products found success by "unpacking category expansion" and reframing categories, according to Nielsen's analysis. Bud Light Lime-A-Rita ignored the industry-accepted boundaries of beer and margaritas, while WhiteWave capitalized on the fact that added flavor is the most important aspect of iced coffee, allowing it to leverage the company's International Delight "flavor credentials" instead of building or buying a coffee brand.

The Breakthrough Innovation winners' success in a variety of categories shows that "breakthrough success is possible in any category, in any company, at any time," according to Nielsen.

Other key findings in the report include:

  • Winners loosen their grip on certainty when it comes to what innovation is, isn’t or looks like;
  • Winners understand the circumstance of need in all its dimensions, and the innovation spec is clear;
  • Innovations that valuably perform jobs expand categories;
  • Winners are clear-eyed about the challenge of aligning capabilities with the development spec;
  • Breakthrough winners sustain focus well beyond launch; and
  • No successes are flawless, no failures are meritless and they all offer lessons for those determined to learn and improve.

Nielsen's research shows that some of the most successful companies rely on demand-driven insights, which take advantage of circumstances in which consumers have jobs to be done and available solutions are sub-optimal. With demand-driven insights, context is king; categories dissolve and reassemble in ways that may look very different; opportunities are closer than people think; and risk and return are not correlated.

A full download of the Nielsen Breakthrough Innovation Report can be requested by clicking here.