What does IRI’s New Product Pacesetters Tell us About Nutrition Marketing?

Thinking about innovating your product portfolio? Take a lesson from the top sellers from 2017.

According to IRI, these ten products fared best in 2017 (there’s a separate list for convenience, but I’m sticking with MULO (moo-low), or Multi Outlet sales.

First let’s look at the winners:

2017 New Product Pacesetters: Top 10 new food and beverage launches (MULO)

  1. Halo Top: $324.2m
  2. GOOD THiNS: $87.0m
  3. Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee: $67.1m
  4. Nestlé Splash: $55.2m
  5. LIFEWTR: $50.4m
  6. SMARTMADE by Smart Ones: $49.3m
  7. HERSHEY’S Cookie Layer Crunch: $47.7m
  8. Hillshire Snacking: $47.5m
  9. Well Yes!: $47.3m
  10. Cracker Barrel Macaroni & Cheese: $46.6m

What do all these hot brands have in common?

  • There’s nothing weird — no bone broth, collagen protein or adaptogens — they’re pretty basic foods, some with new function, but all pretty simple, no huge innovation
  • They’re all indulgent — or seem to invite indulgence, even the two water brands are offering something indulgent to the eyes, the ego or the taste buds
  • None of them are primarily weight loss brands — Halo Top could have positioned itself as a way to eat fewer calories and drop the pounds. Instead it went the “eat the whole thing” route. It essentially changed the portion size from ½ cup to a container
  • They’re all pretty much about convenience — grab and go or prepare very easily
  • Most are about snacking, which is supposedly gaining ground over “meals” — the two meal options seem super convenient — not a meal kit, just easy and straightforward
  • There’s a tinge of “health” in a number of these — not much, mind you, more of a consumer nod to trying to eat better

So, how does this inform new innovations that might put you on this list?

  • Stay mass — regardless of all the shiny new objects out there — miracle ingredients and such, consumers are proving to be a tried and true bunch. If you’re going to add something new, don’t go too far out there
  • The familiar is king — people are creatures of habit. Halo Top’s crushing dominance on this list and in that aisle has to do with the fact they took an insight — people feel lousy when they overeat ice cream, but they’re always going to overeat it — and made it okay
  • Three squares is being replaced by three snacks — or more. Think hand-held, right out of the bag, poppable
  • Is water fished out? It sure seems like there are plenty of options, but the two here speak to a possible void or two
  • I’m fully worn out seeing “Nutritious meets Delicious.” The thinking is sound; people want to give themselves permission to indulge by knowing something in that food is working in their favor. Find a way to say that without sounding like everyone else.

Okay, good hunting, brave food innovators. Just know, I’m coming up with some ideas of my own.

Be digestible. And thanks.

Eric Kiker: Speaker

Author of The Digestible Brand: The Secret Sauce for Marketing Nutrition to the Confused Consumer

Agency Principal/LRXD

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