CHICAGO — New beverages were popular in 2020, according to IRI’s annual New Product Pacesetters report. The top four innovations were beverages or beverage-adjacent products and included Bud Light Seltzer, Truly Lemonade, Mtn Dew Zero Sugar and Starbucks Creamers.

IRI Pacesetters listThe top three products each generated more than $100 million in sales during the year. IRI said the beverages showed disproportionate growth as millennial shoppers coping with COVID-19 experimented with new products. IRI added that backyard dining and entertaining also drove beverage sales.

“IRI’s 2020 New Product Pacesetters and its consumer attitudes survey about new products tell a story of people staying at home, but still seeking out products and brands that offered indulgence and comfort amid the chaos of COVID-19,” said Larry Levin, executive vice president of market and shopper intelligence and thought leadership for IRI.

Innovations rounding out the top 10 Pacesetters included Rebel Ice Cream, Reign from Monster Beverage, Cheetos Popcorn, Kinder Bueno, Reese’s Thins and Beyond Sausage. Attributes common in these products that connected with consumers were indulgence, convenience, better-for-you and sustainability.

Despite the pandemic-induced upheaval in people’s lives as workplaces, schools and restaurants closed, IRI said its consumer survey data showed interest in new products did not wane. What did change is how they shop, spending less time in store and more time shopping online.

“Product exploration is different online, but e-commerce provides its own unique opportunities for new products to get in front of shoppers and into carts,” IRI said. “The source of awareness is worth noting, as it is most often based on experience with a brand. More than eight in 10 consumers say past experience with a brand has made a new product purchase easier.”

Demographically, IRI said most Pacesetter brands skew toward consumers with an income of $70,000 or more, households with three or more people and children, toward millennials and away from seniors, and toward males and females ages 25-54.

“A broad look at the demographics of new product consumers points to younger, wealthier families,” IRI said. “These consumers typically buy new products, continued to do so during the pandemic and will keep looking for products that meet their needs and address issues important to them.”

The market researcher also ranked the top 10 convenience store Pacesetters. Brands that made the cut included Zyn, Reign, Bud Light Seltzer, Red Bull Peach, Monster Energy Ultra Paradise, Starbucks Triple Shot Energy, Mtn Dew Zero Sugar, Starbucks Frappuccino with a splash of Cold Brew, Red Bull Pear and Coca-Cola Energy.