Tobacco Products & Beverages Dominate 2019's Most Successful C-store New Products

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Tobacco Products & Beverages Dominate 2019's Most Successful C-store New Products

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CHICAGO — Consumer packaged goods companies of all sizes are benefiting from consumers' willingness to embrace an expanded range of product types and attributes, according to IRI's 2019 New Product Pacesetters report.

The 25th annual report highlights the most successful new product launches across food and beverage, nonfood and convenience store sectors. 

The big story for 2019, Chicago-based IRI pointed out, was the return of the blockbuster product launch. Six food and beverage New Product Pacesetters earned more than $100 million in multioutlet channels, as did four in the nonfood and beverage category.

The last time the food and beverage category had at least six products break the $100-million mark was in 2012. 

"It's not just that these products eclipsed the monumental $100-million plateau, but this year's 10 $100-million-plus launches account for 33 percent of all Pacesetter dollars, accentuating that big is back," said Joan Driggs, vice president of Content and Thought Leadership for IRI. 

Convenience & Niche Products

Similar to previous years, consumers turn to convenience stores for their convenient, on-the-go options, with electronic cigarettes, tobacco and energy drinks filling out the top 10.

According to IRI, consumers rely on the convenience channel for its accessibility and broad distribution. C-stores also typically provide the niche products consumers may not be able to find elsewhere, such as tobacco and smokeless products, as other channels have reduced availability of these offerings or in some cases have stopped supplying them altogether.

The 2019 top 10 c-store products were:

  1. Juul: $2.35 billion
  2. Bang: $723.6 million
  3. White Claw: $344.8 million
  4. Vuse Alto: $225.6 million
  5. Marlboro Ice: $189 million
  6. Red Bull Coconut: $141.3 million
  7. Vuse Ciro: $136.7 million
  8. G Zero: $136.5 million
  9. Myblu: $91.2 million
  10. Mtn Dew Amp Game Fuel: $86.3 million

Big & Small

In 2019, 53 percent of New Product Pacesetters came from small companies, defined as those with less than $1 billion in sales. Small companies are typically able to innovate quickly, demonstrate flexibility and act faster than their larger counterparts. The challenge for smaller companies is typically distribution power, but thanks to the "Shark Tank" effect, products like Kodiak Cakes Power Waffles, chickpea-based Banza noodles and biodegradable, flushable Dude Wipes were able to get noticed and distributed, according to the market research firm.

Big companies also made a splash in 2019, accounting for 24 percent of New Product Pacesetter products and half of Pacesetter dollars. While smaller brands have smaller budgets and typically rely on nontraditional media outlets, big brands dedicated 25 percent to 30 percent of sales dollars to advertising.

For example, Gatorade G Zero saw $154 million in multioutlet sales in 2019 and spent $39.5 million on advertising, according to Kantar Media reports. In contrast, the number one food and beverage New Product Pacesetter, Bang Energy drinks, spent $2,200 on traditional media but generated almost $300 million in multioutlet sales.

"If only one thing is true about New Product Pacesetters year in and year out, it's that the formula for a winning product, no matter the size of the company, is having the right product in the right place at the right time for the right consumer," Driggs said. "This year's New Product Pacesetters stand true to that testament, with both small and large brands achieving success thanks to smart distribution strategies and personalized targeted marketing initiatives."

Food & Beverage Leaders

While 2018 New Product Pacesetters' top 10 primarily featured sweet and indulgent foods and beverages, 2019's top 10 shifted toward natural, pure and non-GMO ingredients, IRI said. In 2019, three of the top 10 and 25 of the top 100 food and beverage New Product Pacesetters offered non-GMO benefits.

The 2019 top 10 food and beverage products were:

  1. Bang: $299.4 million
  2. Enfamil NeuroPro: $230.5 million
  3. G Zero: $154.4 million
  4. Bubly: $116.3 million
  5. Arnold/Brownberry/Oroweat Sandwich Thins: $103.2 million
  6. Corona Premier: $101.8 million
  7. Cheez-It Snap'd: $88.7 million
  8. SlimFast Keto: $76.2 million
  9. Perdue Simply Smart Organics: $70.7 million
  10. Pop-Tarts Bites: $68.3 million

Nonfood Leaders

According to IRI, a trend among this year's nonfood New Product Pacesetters is the niche brand's ability to maintain a unique and targeted appeal while transforming to mass-market outlets. 

A trend that carried over from food and beverage is better-for-you attributes despite the often higher price points of these products. Two of the top 10 and 25 of the top 100 in nonfood tout natural/simple ingredients.

The 2019 top 10 nonfood products were:

  1. Blue Buffalo: $313.3 million
  2. Colgate Total SF: $243.1 million
  3. Scott ComfortPlus: $241.6 million
  4. Harry's: $169.8 million
  5. Pampers Pure Collection: $72.4 million
  6. Crest Gum Collection: $62.1 million
  7. Keurig K-Select: $55 million
  8. Fresh Step Clean Paws: $48.8 million
  9. LUMIFY: $48.2 million
  10. Theraworx Relief: $47.1 million

"Only time will tell how consumers' behaviors will change from the pre-COVID-19 world to the one we are living in today, but brands that want to thrive will need to adjust their strategies, sometimes dramatically, to reflect the new normal," said Larry Levin, executive vice president, Market and Shopper Intelligence and Thought Leadership, IRI. "When we look at how new products were developed and distributed during a similar economic period, the Great Recession, we see ample opportunity for manufacturers and retailers to adjust their innovation strategies in order to keep winning."

The IRI 2019 New Product Pacesetters report was compiled based on insights from IRI's New Product Innovation Practice's suite of analytical and decision-making tools, as well as the 2020 IRI New Product Survey.