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[chicago] The vast majority of new products are line extensions, but the biggest payoff comes from introducing truly new concepts or brand names.

That's the conclusion of Carol Elitov, exec VP-general manager of Information Resources Inc.'s New Product Solution Center, who unveiled research at the Food Marketing Institute's annual supermarket show.


According to IRI's figures, 85% of all new food products last year were extensions, as were 76% of non-food introductions. Yet, truly new products reap an average of $41 million in dollar sales as compared to $27 million for line extensions, Ms. Elitov said.

Products that offer a new benefit-even if marketed under an existing product name-appear to have been the most successful last year. Ms. Elitov cited Frito-Lay's Baked Lay's potato crisps, a $167 million product; Kraft Foods' DiGiorno Rising Crust Pizza ($120 million); and S.C. Johnson & Son's Glade Candle Scents room freshener ($110 million) as examples.

Pure line extensions fared less well, IRI said, citing Procter & Gamble Co.'s Bounty Medleys paper towels ($126 million); S.C. Johnson's Drano Max drain cleaner ($25 million); and Kellogg Co.'s Honey Crunch Corn Flakes cereal ($24 million).

Despite this, most marketers appear to lean toward the extensions. While P&G led the pack of marketers introducing new products last year, with 11 products totaling $869 million in sales, 10 of those were line or brand extensions. Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s eight new products were all line extensions, contributing $484 million in sales, as were Philip Morris Cos.' 11 entries with $415 million in sales.


Of the top 10 new-product marketers last year, only two companies-Johnson & Johnson and Warner-Lambert Co.-came up with more than one totally new product, each with two.

IRI's top 10 new products last year, ranked by dollar sales: P&G's Luvs Stretch disposable diapers, with $435 million; Scott Paper Co.'s Scott 1000 toilet tissue, $309 million; Johnson & Johnson/Merck's Pepcid AC acid blocker, $248 million; SmithKline Beecham's Nicorette smoking cessation gum, $189 million; Baked Lay's, $167 million; P&G's Pampers Premium disposable diapers, $162 million; SmithKline's Tagamet HB/200 acid blocker, $155 million; P&G's Bounty Medleys paper towels, $126 million; DiGiorno Pizza, $120 million; and Warner-Lambert's Zantac 75 acid blocker, $116 million.

IRI said 40% of new food products introduced last year were in the light or "better for you" category. But the trend appears to be on the downswing; the 10,206 low-fat or "better for you" entries in '96 were down 1.3% from 1995's 10,343, the first such decline since 1992.

Buyers of "better for you" lines tend to be older consumers. On an index of 100, consumers aged 65- plus indexed 144 for light products while consumers aged 55-

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