Chicago-based Information Resources Inc. (IRI) announced last year’s most successful consumer packaged goods (CPG) launches in its 2017 New Product Pacesetters report, the CPG industry-recognized benchmark analysis of exceptional first-year new product sales success.

Thousands of new brands hit retail shelves during 2017, with 49 percent of the top-ranking brands hailing from small manufacturers — defined as those earning less than $1 billion annually — and accounting for 26 percent of Pacesetter dollars. Overall, the top-selling 200 new brands captured cumulative year-one sales of more than $4.6 billion across IRI’s multi-outlet geography, it says.

“Consumers are demanding products that are customized to their needs, and this type of targeted innovation continues to put small and niche companies on the New Product Pacesetter map,” said Susan Viamari, IRI’s vice president of Thought Leadership, in a statement. “Just five years ago, an estimated nine out of every 10 Pacesetters launched were extensions of existing brand lines. In 2017, 40 percent of food and beverage and 25 percent of non-food Pacesetters were brands entirely new to the CPG marketplace. This clearly demonstrates consumers’ willingness to try ‘unknown’ brands. Millennials, in particular, are more moved by experiences and solutions to their needs and less likely to purchase based solely on brand name.”

Larry Levin, executive vice president of Consumer and Shopper Marketing for IRI added: “Smaller, more targeted product launches have become the new norm in CPG aisles, as manufacturers look to enhance impact with launches that align more closely with key consumer needs and wants. In a testament to the power of this shift, 20 percent of this year’s top-selling launches earned less than $10 million during their first year on the shelves, continuing a trend we found in last year’s analysis.”

Food and beverage launches capture $14.5 million in median year-one sales

For the Top 100 food and beverage champions, median year-one sales were $14.5 million, excluding outlier Halo Top, which earned year-one sales of $342.2 million. All of the Top 10 New Product Pacesetter brands were new market entrants, though many of these, including Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee, Nestlé Splash and Hershey’s Cookie Layer Crunch, certainly benefited from the equity their manufacturers already enjoy in the marketplace, the market research firm says.

It’s no surprise that millennials are eager adopters of new CPG products, it adds. This group, after all, is continuously on the lookout for new, exciting and unique experiences. This quest for newness is pushing innovation into new territory.

Although frugal, millennials will spend on things that matter to them. Of the 20 largest 2017 Pacesetter brands, 85 percent command a price premium compared with their respective category averages. PepsiCo’s LIFEWTR, for instance, sells at a premium compared with other convenience/still waters, IRI states. The brand hit strong in the market as a purified water, pH-balanced with electrolytes added for taste.

Millennials also are embracing wellness and self-care to ward off ailments. Campbell’s Well Yes! soup easily meets this demand because it features clean, simple and nutritious ingredients to make healthy eating quick and easy, IRI adds.

2017 New Product Pacesetters: Top 10 food and beverage brands

($ Millions)

(Total year-one dollar sales, multi-outlet)

1. Halo Top







3. Dunkin' Donuts Iced Coffee



4. Nestlé Splash






6. SMARTMADE by Smart Ones



7. HERSHEY'S Cookie Layer Crunch



8. Hillshire Snacking



9. Well Yes!



10. Cracker Barrel Macaroni & Cheese





Source: IRI Market Advantage

Top launches capture median $31.7 million in first-year sales in convenience stores

In the convenience store arena, median year-one sales across the Top 10 IRI New Product Pacesetters were $31.7 million, demonstrating the power behind consumers’ ongoing quests for indulgent, on-the-go experiences, IRI reports.


2017 New Product Pacesetters: Top 10 convenience store brands

($ millions)

(Total year-one dollar sales, convenience store channel)

1. Red Bull Green Edition







3. Monster Mutant Super Soda



4. HERSHEY'S Cookie Layer Crunch






6. Four Loko Gold






8. Sprite Tropical Mix






10. Pepsi Cherry Vanilla





Source: IRI Market Advantage

Interestingly, most of the Top 10 products in this channel in 2017 were beverages. And as seen among food and beverage and non-food Pacesetters, categories are starting to blend and blur more. For instance, Monster, which is known as an energy drink brand, launched Monster Mutant Super Soda, a carbonated soft drink. And carbonated beverage Mountain Dew Black Label developed packaging that looks very similar to energy drink cans. All of the Top 10 convenience-channel Pacesetters are pure indulgence products (except for bottled water), which reflects consumers’ ongoing desire for healthier-for-you indulgences, IRI states.

“Innovating to meet core needs and wants is crucial to ensuring new product success, but the challenge doesn’t end there. For a new product to be truly successful, it is up to marketers to ensure that the product — and messaging — are where the shopper is, when the shopper is ready to buy,” Viamari said. “Through big data and advanced analytics, CPG marketers do have visibility into where shoppers go to learn about new products, as well as into what the highest-potential retail banners are, and even where the highest potential locations exist within each of these banners. By understanding key shoppers — what they want, where they go to learn about products and where they go to try new brands — marketers can influence purchase decisions with messaging and assortment that drive sales.”