Elevated experiences, self-care and brand extensions win amid industry challenges
CHICAGO — June 7, 2023 — Circana, formerly IRI and The NPD Group, today released its 2022 New Product Pacesetters, the 28th annual report revealing the top new product launches across food and beverage and nonfood sectors.
The report illustrates the enduring power of CPG innovation, revealing that consumer spending on new product offerings remained elevated last year despite challenges surrounding high inflation, supply chain adjustments and ingredient costs. The 2022 New Product Pacesetters achieved a staggering $6.8 billion in combined year-one sales across food, beverage and nonfood solutions, compared to $6 billion in 2021 Pacesetter sales.
“Consumers have a big appetite for new products, and the 2022 Pacesetters represent companies and brands that satisfy genuine needs and desires with focused, strategic approaches,” said Joan Driggs, vice president, Content and Thought Leadership, Circana. “Manufacturers and retailers that prioritize innovation are more likely to drive sales and foster loyalty.”
The Top 10 Food and Beverage New Product Pacesetters for 2022 are:
- Alani Nu
- Dr Pepper Zero Sugar
- Chick-fil-A Sauces
- Truly Punch
- Truly Margarita Style
- Mtn Dew Spark
- Tattooed Chef
- Red Bull Green Edition
- Topo Chico Hard Seltzer
The Top 10 Nonfood New Product Pacesetters for 2022 are:
- Downy Light
- Dawn Ultra EZ-Squeeze
- Blue Tastefuls
- Crest Whitening Emulsions
- Febreze Unstopables Touch
- Huggies Special Delivery
Consumers Seek Elevated At-Home Experiences
New product innovation that provides uplifting at-home experiences helped to alleviate the strain of inflation for consumers. Among food and beverage Pacesetters, Chick-fil-A sauces ranked No. 3, generating over $140 million in sales and highlighting the appeal of recreating distinctive, restaurant-style experiences at home. Delivering an in-home party experience, Truly Margarita Style, Topo Chico Hard Seltzer and White Claw Surge, coming in at No. 5, No. 10, and No. 12, respectively, offer a convenient way to enjoy cocktail favorites.
In nonfood products, scent plays a crucial role in driving sales for many 2022 Pacesetters, including No. 3 Downy Light laundry beads, No. 9 Febreze Unstopables Touch touch-activated fabric refresher, and No. 22 Dove Nourishing Secrets hair and body care products.
Simplicity and Sustainability Are Key
Circana’s consumer research shows that brand values, responsible production and product packaging are becoming increasingly important. Consumers are concerned about the impact brands and products have on the environment and the world around them. Plant-based offerings, such as those from No. 7 food and beverage Pacesetter Tattooed Chef frozen products, have a major presence in the 2022 lineup. Plant-based food and beverages represent $411 million in 2022 Pacesetter sales, more than doubling the number of Pacesetter products and dollar sales in the previous three years.
According to research conducted by Circana and NYU’s Stern Center for Sustainable Business, sustainability-marketed products continue to increase their share among 36 tracked CPG categories, representing more than 17% in 2022, but driving an outsize 30% of growth. Sustainability also plays a significant role in nonfood Pacesetters, with recyclable products like No. 65 Glade PlugIns PLUS air freshener and No. 73 Ball Aluminum Cups making the cut.
Consumer focus on self-care as part of a healthy lifestyle continues to gain traction as individuals aim to address wellness goals around sleep, mental clarity, stress management and more. Many CPG manufacturers and retailers are capitalizing on this opportunity and introducing innovative products that enable consumers to conveniently address their self-care goals at home. New health care products accounted for $1.8 billion in sales last year, comprising 55% of nonfood Pacesetter sales.
This represents significant growth compared to the 21% achieved in 2021, highlighting the increased demand for home health care solutions driven by the pandemic.
At-home COVID-19 test kits topped the nonfood Pacesetter chart, with No. 1 BinaxNOW generating $949 million in sales last year and No. 2 Flowflex with $573 million in sales. Several products offering innovative self-care solutions were 2022 Pacesetters, such as No. 31, AleveX, a new product from a trusted brand delivering pain relief in rub-on and massaging roller-ball forms. Mielle, No. 6, points to the importance of the ethnic hair and body care products market in an ever-evolving industry, recognizing consumer demand for different ingredients to allow all skin, hair, and bodies to thrive.
Iconic Brands Are on the Move
Nearly a third of shoppers surveyed by Circana state the importance of purchasing products from trustworthy brands and manufacturers. No. 41 in nonfood Pacesetters, Vicks Super C, is a trusted health care brand extending its reach beyond cough and cold treatments to preventive health. Over the past decade, the number of licensed food and beverage products on the Pacesetters list has tripled, reaching a notable $242 million in 2022. Co-branding is also increasing in popularity, with Pacesetters like No. 63 Cattleman’s Cut Takis meat sticks and No. 100 Snack Pack SOUR PATCH KIDS Juicy Gels breaking into new spaces with bold-flavored products from well-known brands.
Performance-Boosting Products Are on the Rise
Carbonated beverages and sports and energy drinks have a large presence on the 2022 Pacesetters list, representing 27% of total food and beverage Pacesetters. Taking the No. 1 spot, Alani Nu offers a wide range of whimsical flavors within its energy line, designed to enhance performance and highlighting active ingredients biotin, B6 and B12. Other popular brands offer convenient ready-to mix and ready-to-drink products, including No. 17 CELSIUS Vibe, No. 68 Starbucks Premium Instant coffee and No. 77 Starbucks Cold & Crafted coffee.
Today’s consumers are looking for more than a quick energy boost — they also desire products that offer functional health benefits and unique flavors. No. 8 Pacesetter Red Bull Green Edition provides energy and “vitalizes body and mind” with its dose of dragon fruit, while No. 9 Gatorlyte offers rapid sports rehydration and recovery through a specialized blend of five electrolytes with lower sugar content than Gatorade’s traditional sports drinks.
Who’s Innovating and How?
In 2022, more dollar sales came from medium-size companies, a first in recent years. While medium-size companies delivered 28% of Pacesetter products, they represented a notable 35% of Pacesetter dollars, up nearly 15 percentage points from 2021. Small companies also saw an increase in dollar contribution year over year, delivering 21% of Pacesetter dollars in 2022 compared to 15% in 2021. The growth of small- and medium-size companies was driven by a focus on new brands and social media support, which amplified awareness of new products.
“Big companies’ dollar share dipped from 50% in 2021 to 35% in 2022,” said Lisa Maas, principal and practice lead, Innovation, Circana. “This reflects the emphasis that larger manufacturers placed on brand extensions in an effort to build on the trust consumers have with well-known brands. In this year’s Pacesetters, brand extensions represent 54% of total food and beverage Pacesetters, while new brands represent 46%.”
About the Report
The Circana 2022 New Product Pacesetters report is available exclusively from Circana, the leading advisor on the complexity of consumer behavior. The findings of this report were compiled based on insights from Circana’s New Product Innovation Practice’s powerful suite of analytical and decision-making tools, as well as the 2022 Circana New Product Survey. To download the full report, click here.
Circana will be hosting a New Product Pacesetters webinar on June 14 at 1 p.m. CT. To register for this free webinar, please visit https://event.on24.com/wcc/r/4227945/AC843D6C703C8DC6F02BD507B95757F5.