Innovative Products Lead in 2020

Innovation will drive business growth in the new normal, according to Nielsen.

Nielsen recently released its 2020 U.S. BASES Top 25 Breakthough Innovations List which includes several food and beverage products. Trending themes among the products included convenience, as well as health and wellness.

“Consumer needs and priorities are evolving, just as they did before COVID-19, clearing the way for new innovation to happen,” the report read. “We see a strong number of innovation ideas being tested by BASES, signaling a bounce back following a dip in the early months of the pandemic.”

As competition for the consumer heated up in-store and online, Nielsen noted that this year’s Breakthrough Innovations won consumers’ hearts and minds through ingenuity, marketing, savvy, and expert-level decision making.

“This year’s winners have attained the elusive recipe for product innovation success—good idea + good product + good activation,” said Ben Macedo, leader of BASES, North America. “A fine line separates risk, resilience, and reward, and all of these winners have navigated each of these flawlessly.”

Food items on the list included: the Beyond Burger, Blue Bunny Load’d Sundaes, Cheeze-It Snap’d, “Game of Thrones” Oreos, Pop-Tarts Bites, and Two Good.

Notably, the list was dominated by beverages including Bang Energy Drinks, BodyArmor Lyte, Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Lemonade, Corona Premier, Gatorade Zero, Ketel One Botanical, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold, Monster Energy Mango Loco, MTN Dew Liberty Brew, and Ripple Plant-Based Milk.

The items on the list reflect trends that have been popular during the pandemic such as snacks, plant-based products, and healthy beverages.

COVID-19 has changed snacking habits in the U.S. About one-third of Americans are snacking more often than they did before the COVID-19 crisis, while under 10% are snacking less, according to the 2020 Food and Health Survey, an annual survey commissioned by the International Food Information Council. Specifically, 41% of Americans aged under 35 report snacking more than normal, compared with 26% of those aged 50 and older.

Items on Nielsen’s list, such as Pop-Tarts Bites, Cheese-It Snap’d, and “Game of Thrones” Oreos fit in to this category, while also being innovative.

With Pop-Tarts Bites, it took several iterations and new technology to get the right bite for on-the-go usage. The team remained committed to perfecting the product throughout the development process to ensure it would encourage out-of-home consumption and maintain the core foundation of a Pop-Tart, according to the report.

For “Game of Thrones” Oreos, Mondelez International, with the help of their ad agency, changed the standard blue packaging to create a pack with ‘wow’ factor, Nielsen noted, which led to positive outcomes for the brand.

Unsurprisingly, the Beyond Burger was listed as the brand grew even more during 2020 as consumers leaned into eating plant-based. Beyond Meat’s second quarter revenue jumped 69% to $113 million as more households tried its plant-based products, reported Yakima Herald Republic. Sales outpaced Wall Street’s forecast of $99 million, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

Meanwhile, health-focused beverages continue to do well. Vital Pharma’s Bang Energy drinks were also number one on IRI’s top pacesetters list earlier this year.

Ketel One, a brand that wasn’t previously strongly associated with wellness, went outside its norm to win advocacy in the space with the launch of Ketel One Botanical. The new beverage was promoted at yoga events, fun runs, and wine festivals to reach the mindful consumer and strengthen ties with wellness.