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14 Product Launches That Rocked And Why

Secret To Nielsen's Breakthrough Brands: Identifying 'Unarticulated Desires'

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As most marketers know, product launches don't prove their worth in the first year. It's year two that really counts, as consumers either make repeat purchases or move on to the next shiny object. And the truth is, most new products fail to clear this hurdle.

But who has made it? And what can be learned? Nielsen gives some clues in its 2013 "breakthrough innovation report," which singles out 14 winners after examining more than 3,400 consumer packaged-goods that hit shelves in 2011. All of the winners achieved at least 90% of year-one sales in year two.

Some of them come from some pretty staid categories – like dinner kits and oral care. But they all relied on what Nielsen describes as "demand-driven insight," or identifying the "unarticulated desires, partially expressed needs and recurring frustrations in consumers' lives" – which is a lot easier said than done.

Here are the winners, including two-year sales results for each one from Nielsen:

Allegra Allergy

Two-year revenue: $680 million to $690 million

The Sanofi/Chattem-owned brand was late to the over-the-counter allergy relief category. But Nielsen says the brand was able to stand out by filling a need to provide fast and non-drowsy relief.

Reese's Minis

Two-year revenue: $230 million to $240 million

The Hershey brand plays in the flourishing "mini" segment by shrinking its iconic Reese's cups and removing the individual wrapper to give consumers an easier way to eat the candy on the go.

Milo's Kitchen Home-Style Dog Treats

Two-year revenue: $175 million to $185 million

The insight for this Del Monte brand was that while the pet-food category has plenty of "human-quality food" pet food, there was a lack of premium treats, Nielsen said. Milo's Kitchen fills that bill with flavors like beef sausage slices with rice.

Skinny Cow Candy

Two-year revenue: $115 million to $125 million

Candy next to Lean Cuisine? That's how this Nestle-owned brand sold this lower-calorie candy line in grocery stores in what Nielsen called a "gutsy" move that paid off.

Mio Liquid Water Enhancer

Two-year revenue: $265 million to $275 million

Part of Kraft Food Group's plan of "fewer, bigger, better" launches, Mio capitalized on the customization trend, drawing copycat launches from the likes of Coca-Cola's Dasani.

Velveeta Cheesy Skillets

Two-year revenue: $170 million to $180 million

The Kraft-owned cheese brand moved into the dinner-kit category with such success that it forced long-time leader Hamburger Helper by General Mills to relaunch with new products and marketing in order to keep pace.

Colgate Optic White

Two-year revenue: $250 million to $260 million

Colgate-Palmolive proved that there was a sizeable group of consumers who want professional-grade teeth whitening at the price and convenience of toothpaste, according to Nielsen.

Magnum Ice Cream

Two-year revenue $225 million to $235 million

The Unilever brand brought "sophisticated elegance and high style" to the U.S. ice cream market, which had been lacking it, according to Nielsen.

Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt

Two-year revenue: $735 million to $745 million

While Fage and Chobani got a head start on the Greek yogurt market, Dannon has caught up quickly with Oikos, and blown by Yoplait in the process.

Monster Rehab

Two-year revenue: $535 million to $545 million

According to Nielsen, this product was launched after researchers at Monster Beverage Co. found that people liked pouring energy drinks into their workout bottles. Marketing includes a tie-in with Vegas pool parties, suggesting that it is also being positioned as a hangover cure.

Downy Unstopables In-Wash Scent Booster

Two-year revenue: $535 million to $545 million

This Procter & Gamble brand drew in a "neglected pool of consumers seeking long-lasting fragrance," according to Nielsen.

Sparkling Ice

Two-year revenue: $215 to $225 million

Beverage marketer TalkingRain proved that big launches are possible from small companies with this lightly carbonated drink that comes in flavors like pomegranate berry and coconut pineapple.

Fiber One 90-Calorie Brownies

Two-year revenue: $210 million to $220 million

General Mills turned to Cheech and Chong to help market this lower-calorie chocolate treat aimed at baby boomers.

Special K Cracker Chips

Two-year revenue: $180 million to $190 million

Kellogg Co. proved that there is plenty of life left in this venerable cereal brand, and that it can extend into the snack aisle.

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