Nielsen honors Breakthrough Innovation winners

by Keith Nunes
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PHOENIX — With the issuance of its Breakthrough Innovation awards, the market research firm Nielsen has highlighted a series of food and beverage products that not only succeeded in year one, but gained additional momentum in year two. The awards were announced during the company’s Consumer 360 conference in Phoenix.

To view a slideshow of the products, click here.

Products sharing the spotlight include:

• Oikos Greek Yogurt from the Dannon Co.;
• Fiber One 90 Calorie Bars from General Mills, Inc.;
• Magnum Ice Cream from Unilever North America;
• Mio Liquid Water Enhancer from the Kraft Foods Group;
• Monster Rehab from the Monster Beverage Corp.;
• Reese’s Minis from the Hershey Co.;
• Skinny Cow Candy from Nestle USA;
• Sparking Ice from TalkingRain;
• Special K Cracker Chips from the Kellogg Co.; and
• Velveeta Cheesy Skillets from the Kraft Foods Group.

To qualify for a Breakthrough Innovation honor, a product had to have at least $50 million in year one sales, achieve at least 90% of year one sales in year two, and deliver a new value proposition, which meant products featuring ingredient reformulations, new packaging, size changes, repositioning and other refinements to existing brands were not considered. A total of 3,439 products were considered, according to Nielsen.

“Breakthrough Innovation companies achieve uncommon results because of their ability to pursue, shape, develop, and activate insights that deliver what consumers demand,” said Taddy Hall, a senior vice-president for Nielsen. “These winners challenged convention and triumphed by expanding or transforming categories. It is through their unencumbered, demand-driven development that Breakthrough Winners create visible separation from the pack.”

A report issued in conjunction with the awards announcement features insights from some executives who were involved in some of the award winning product launches.

Mike DePanfilis, who was the senior marketing director responsible for Hershey’s Reese’s franchise in 2011, noted that the launch of Reese’s Minis “… reaffirmed our core brand equity as ‘the perfect combination of chocolate and peanut butter’ and we required all innovation ideas to reinforce and leverage that core equity,” he said in the report. “There was a pattern of straying from all that we had built up, and we had to embrace our strengths.”

Unilever’s Magnum brand generated year one sales of $95 million and year two sales of $136 million in the United States.

“We wanted to take satisfying indulgence not only to a new level, but to a whole new space,” said Alfie Vivian, vice-president of refreshments USA at Unilever and the person responsible for the launch of the product in the United States. “This was never just about ice cream. Magnum was never a market share play. From the beginning we wanted to transform, energize and expand the category.”

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