Bases, a Nielsen global consumer business, has released its 2020 U.S. Bases Top 25 Breakthrough Innovations List. While COVID-19 will have an enduring and profound impact on the CPG industry, one thing that cannot be overlooked is the role that innovation plays today and in the new normal that emerges.
Consumer needs and priorities are evolving, just as they did before COVID-19, clearing the way for new innovation to happen. And manufacturers are answering this demand. In fact, there is a strong number of innovation ideas being tested by Bases, signaling a bounce back following a dip in the early months of the pandemic. Learning from those who got it right, like this year’s Bases Top 25 Breakthrough Innovations, will help more of these new product ideas succeed.
As the competition for consumer attention in-store and online intensifies, this year’s Breakthrough Innovations have won consumers’ hearts and minds through ingenuity, marketing savvy and expert-level decision-making.
“This year’s winners have attained the elusive recipe for product innovation success – good idea + good product + good activation. A fine line separates risk, resilience and reward, and all of these winners have navigated each of these flawlessly,” said Ben Macedo, leader of Bases, North America.
So how did the winners identify the right idea and break the mold in marketing activation?
Several of this year’s winners extended their brand by expanding when and how it is consumed. Risks in extending an established brand exist and need to be managed carefully. Up to 25 percent of new product launches shrink an existing brand franchise. The key to success is balancing the core essence of their brand heritage with communication about the new product and consumption occasion it addresses.
Still other winners broke the mold by enlisting out-of-the-box development and activation. They utilized marketing and promotional tactics in the places where their new consumers are, but their brands haven’t typically gone.
“To compete today, marketers are employing diverse strategies for innovation. A few of these strategies include disrupting the category, fending off competitive pressure or targeting a highly-engaged core target of consumers. These varied approaches have yielded important changes to the market, and Bases Top 25 Breakthrough Innovations celebrates not just the big bets but all of these impactful and highly successful innovations,” said Macedo.
Looking at trends today that are creating the breakthrough innovations of tomorrow, a few notable themes emerge. The first is addressing the disruption that COVID-19 has spawned. The Homebody Economy sees consumers bringing convenience in-home to replicate out-of-the home experiences.
Somewhat related to the Homebody Economy is the hold that health and wellness has on consumers. When asked how enduring the changes in their purchase behavior for health products will be, nearly a third of U.S. consumers anticipate it lasting for the next six months or more.
Lastly, the interest in cannabis is expanding, due in part to new legalities. U.S. sales of Hemp-CBD products are expected to grow more than 3.5x from 2020-25, exposing new opportunities for brand innovation and forcing category leaders to play smart offense. Although much remains to be seen about the post COVID-19 new normal, one thing for sure is that innovation continues to be a key driver of business growth and viability.
Top 25 Breakthrough Innovations
Air Wick Essential Mist
Bang Energy Drinks
Beyond Meat Beyond Burger
Blue Bunny Load’d Sundaes
Canada Dry Ginger Ale and Lemonade
Crest Gum Detoxify
“Game of Thrones” Oreo
göt2b Hair Color
Ketel One Botanical
Love Beauty and Planet
LUMIFY Redness Reliever Eye Drops
Lysol Laundry Sanitizer
Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold
Monster Energy Mango Loco
MTN DEW Liberty Brew
Mucinex Fast-Max All in One
Pampers Pure Collection
Ripple Plant-Based Milk
The brands that made the 2020 list reflect a wide range of products and approaches that succeeded in making meaningful connections with consumers. Beyond Bases requirements for products that reflect strong, distinct qualities such as mass potential, longevity, brand incrementality, category distinction or appeal toward a specific consumer target, this year’s list includes all six of Nielsen Bases’ activation profiles.
Nielsen Holdings plc is a global measurement and data analytics company that provides the most complete and trusted view available of consumers and markets worldwide. Nielsen is divided into two business units. Nielsen Global Media provides media and advertising industries with unbiased and reliable metrics that create a shared understanding of the industry required for markets to function. Nielsen Global Connect provides CPG manufacturers and retailers with accurate, actionable information and insights and a complete picture of the complex and changing marketplace that companies need to innovate and grow.