Sometimes A New Product Launch Just Needs A Little Elbow Grease

SymphonyIRI Group’s 2011 New Products Pacesetters report was just released the other day and it seems to play right into the nexus between the old way of advertising and the new way.  In this picture, I don’t look at the old way as a bad thing, especially as the new products listed in the report relate mostly to items found in grocery stores. As we continue to move deeper into technology and digital connectivity, grocery stores and the products they sell are still a strong remnant of the past.  When launching food/beverage products and even the top performing non-food items, you can’t disregard traditional techniques – but the opportunity is there to smartly build the consumer base with targeted digital advertising and a little elbow grease.


Looking at the top food/beverage launch for 2011 – P.F. Chang’s Home Menu line ($101.6 Million) – and the top non-food launch – Pampers Cruisers/Swaddlers with Dry Max ($296 Million) – there’s no surprise that most of these top-selling items are most likely found  on the shelves at the grocery store.

With a few exceptions, the same would be said for those other products that launched in 2011 and found themselves in the top 10 for each category:

Food/beverage launches (in $ millions) included Thomas’ Bagel  Thins ($73.6); Oscar Mayer Selects ($69.2); Folgers Gourmet Selections K-Cups  ($58.4); M&M’s Pretzel ($58.4); Sun Drop carbonated beverages ($55.8); Kellogg’s Special K Cracker Chips ($50.6); Lean Cuisine Market Creations  ($48.6); Gold Peak Chilled Tea ($44.3); and Bailey’s Coffee Creamer ($44.2).

Non-foods launches (in $ millions) included Gillette Fusion  ProGlide ($169.4); U by Kotex ($74.6); Schick Hydro ($64.9); Maybelline Volum’ Express Falsies eye cosmetics ($46.5); Nicorette Lozenge ($45.2); Sally Hansen  Salon Effects ($41.8); Tide Plus Febreze Freshness ($37.9); Ensure with Revigor  ($37.5); and Maybelline Fit Me facial cosmetics ($36.2).

If the grocery store is still where most items are bought on a weekly basis – and this judgement is just based on the fact that people generally have less to spend, eat out less than half as much as they did when the recession began and the stores are stocking more and more varied products beyond foods – then the way in which they have historically done (and continue to do) business is of the utmost importance.

There are still the “games” played for placement in store, but the old-school component that still plays a huge role is the one of Circulars. As junk mail continues to dwindle (thankfully), there is still a circular that arrives in mailboxes once a week.  In times of a strong economy, perhaps more people would have thrown them away without reading. But now, it has become a piece of interest delivered to the door.  Even with the growth of digital coupon outlets, there is still huge amounts of money spent on advertising in circulars. And, unless the marketers who pay for them are bad business people, they must be working to a great extent.

Most of the top-sellers from last year are brand extensions and not wholly new products. If you didn’t go into a store, you might not have even noticed that they were available.  There were certainly some products that had television campaigns and a larger number who engaged in targeted digital media.  Ultimately, if the budget allows for it, the proper media mix can grow the consumption well beyond what might have been found by foot traffic or circular impressions.

It seems to me, that by looking at the top launches above and the way things are currently being done, it’s not a completely new world, just one that is augmented by new technologies. Yet again, an opportunity to rev-up consumption by putting a little elbow grease into it and augmenting the norm with compelling and smart campaigns.



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