‘Breakthrough innovation’ rankings reward seltzers, coffee and energy

By Beth Newhart

- Last updated on GMT

“Consumers encounter more than 30,000 new products every year, creating a fierce competition to capture the hearts and wallets of consumers." Pic: Getty/explosivekeeper
“Consumers encounter more than 30,000 new products every year, creating a fierce competition to capture the hearts and wallets of consumers." Pic: Getty/explosivekeeper

Related tags Bubly Sparkling water sparkling flavored water seltzer hard seltzer white claw Dunkin' donuts iced coffee Coffee Mountain dew

Nielsen’s annual Top 25 Breakthrough Innovation awards whittled down 45,000 CPG products and singled out five US beverages. Products from PepsiCo and Coca-Cola were among those gaining top honors; alongside hard seltzer success story White Claw.

Every year Nielsen releases its pick of top food, beverage and consumer goods products that find global success. The 2019 winners were all launched in 2017, and ranged from canned seltzers and frozen meals to shampoo and razors.

Nielsen found that a new product was launched to the US marketplace every two minutes in 2019, but over the last three years, brick-and-mortar CPG unit volume has remained steady at about 1%. This indicates that so many new launches are not having equal, sustainable success.

The top 25 brands succeeded in “making meaningful connections with consumers,”​ according to Nielsen, which it called ‘an impressive feat’ in the crowded marketplace. The products were judged on mass potential, longevity, brand incrementality, category distinction and appeal toward a specific consumer target.

Jenny Frazier, senior VP of Nielsen BASES, said “Consumers encounter more than 30,000 new products every year, creating a fierce competition to capture the hearts and wallets of consumers. With this much new news in the marketplace, there’s never been a more important time for manufacturers to find breakthrough success.

“The Nielsen BASES Top 25 Breakthrough Innovation list celebrates the absolute best of what brand innovators do to drive growth, and show us all what is possible when we pair a great idea with a great product and great activation.”

bubly sparkling water

bubly 1

The new gem of the PepsiCo portfolio is bubly sparkling water, which rolled out in the US between late 2017 and early 2018.

It’s a part of the company’s recent on water products, catering to healthy and premium consumer lifestyles.

PepsiCo considers bubly a ‘brand of the future’, and wants it to be its next billion-dollar brand​. The brand will transition to aluminum cans and away from plastic bottle packaging in 2020.

bubly has found success in the crowded flavored seltzer category with its colorful packaging, wide range of 12 flavors and a mainstream ad campaign featuring endorsement from singer Michael Bublé.

dunkin iced 1

Dunkin’ Bottled Iced Coffee

In February 2017, Dunkin’ launched its bottled Iced Coffee in Original, Mocha, Espresso and French Vanilla in the US, produced distributed by The Coca-Cola Company. This brought another option to the RTD iced coffee category in retail, previously dominated by Starbucks.

It was also Dunkin’s first entry into the RTD coffee category, which now includes Bottled Cold Brew in Caramel Black and Midnight Black. The original bottled Iced Coffees are made with Arabica coffee blends and real milk and sugar.

At the time of the 2017 launch, Geoff Henry, VP of coffee and tea at Coca-Cola North America, said “We’re excited to offer coffee consumers a variety of great-tasting, high-quality offerings to enjoy throughout the day. The demand for coffee of all varieties cannot be overstated … This is a big bet for us, without question.”

white claw fam 2

White Claw Hard Seltzer

The breakout star in US alcohol products this year was White Claw. The alcoholic, flavored seltzers were the talk of the summer, going viral in social media posts and present at nearly every warm-weather gathering. Mark Anthony Brands Inc. introduced the product in January 2017.

After hard seltzer sales rose by 169% in 2018 and volume sales were up by 181%, according to Nielsen, it became the battle of the brands for market share. Other top contenders include the Boston Beer Co’s Truly Hard Seltzer and AB InBev’s Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer, though White Claw remains in the lead.

In April 2019, White Claw continued its innovation with the launch of its Pure variety​, a plain, flavorless option to mix with other drinks or use as an alternative to vodka soda/tonic cocktails. White Claw has also inked a sponsorship deal with the Kentucky Derby.

red bull summer 17

The Red Bull Summer Edition

Every year since 2013, Red Bull has released a limited Summer Edition flavor. The 2017 variety was Grapefruit Twist, only available through Labor Day of that year. Previous summer varieties have returned as permanent flavors later, like 2016’s Kiwi Twist.

Red Bull is currently selling Yellow, Blue, Green, Orange, Red, Pear, Peach and Coconut Editions, and a Winter Edition flavor in Plum Twist. The 2019 Summer Edition was Beach Breeze. All Red Bull products contain 80mg of caffeine per 8.4oz can and 114mg per 12oz can.

mtn dewsa

Mtn Dew DEW-S-A

A second beverage from PepsiCo’s portfolio made the 2019 Nielsen list. Mtn Dew’s DEW-S-A flavor was limited edition in summer 2017, coinciding with warm weather US holidays like Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.

DEW-S-A combined existing Mtn Dew flavors Code Red, White Out and Voltage, and was a dark magenta color. The brand has continued releasing seasonal flavors, and summer 2019 saw the launch of the similar Liberty Brew flavor.

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