CHICAGO — Unique flavor twists and clever co-branding are attributes of successful product launches, according to market researcher Mintel.
Limited-edition offerings from Mondelez International, The Hershey Co. and PepsiCo, Inc. were highlighted during a presentation at IFT FIRST, the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting held July 16-19 in Chicago.
Recent introductions that ranked high in purchase intent and uniqueness, according to Mintel’s proprietary purchase intelligence data, were most likely from “leading national brands or possibly private label,” said Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight.
“What that means is they were brands that consumers knew, and that’s important,” she said. “It’s that whole idea of brand trust.”
An example is the Most Oreo Oreo sandwich cookie, which debuted earlier this year and has two chocolate wafers and a double-stuffed, cookies-and-crème filling, tapping into consumer demand for novelty and indulgence.
“Of consumers who eat cookies, 44% say that they’re doing it more often than they were last year because of new flavor availability, new flavors they enjoy,” said Melanie Zanoza Bartelme, associate director of Mintel Food & Drink. “This really does drive engagement within that category.”
Last spring, Hershey introduced the Kit Kat Blueberry Muffin candy bar, which had the brand’s signature crisp wafers coated in a blueberry muffin crème.
“We see that consumers like familiar flavors,” Ms. Dornblaser said. “That helps them decide if they are going to buy something, but also that familiar brand helps them decide if they’re going to buy something. So it’s finding the right blend of the brand and that unusual flavor.”
Like Oreo, Kit Kat has released numerous new flavors globally and in the United States, including its latest churro addition.
“Keep an eye on Kit Kat flavors in other parts of the world,” Ms. Dornblaser said. “Sometimes they bring them to the US, but they always can serve as inspiration for development in the US.”
Another limited-time launch from a brand famous for flavor experimentation is Lay’s BLT Sandwich potato chips, evoking the taste of bacon, lettuce and tomato.
“What is interesting is that consumers who say they are going to purchase this, some of them are saying the fact that it’s a BLT is something that’s drawing them in because they already like BLTs, they know what the flavor is going to be, they are interested in what that could feel like in a chip, and they trust the brand,” Ms. Bartelme said.
The product previously appeared on shelves just over a decade ago and was reformulated prior to its recent comeback, Ms. Bartelme said, noting the earlier iteration was “a bit lettuce-y.”
“To me, the lesson is, for anyone at a CPG company, go back to your failed product vault,” Ms. Dornblaser said. “Every company has one. And take a look at some of those concepts that didn’t make it because they might be relevant for today.”
Also resonating with consumers are established brands crossing into new product applications, such as the slew of spreads, seasonings and snacks inspired by Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.
“This is something that is very much rooted in that familiarity and that nostalgia of childhood, which makes it a very powerful expansion within this flavor and brand family,” Ms. Bartelme said.
She also shared an example of a licensed offering manufactured by Morris National featuring bite-size milk chocolate cups with a Jell-O pudding-like filling, noting “consumers are looking for those things that remind them of their childhoods, especially during these anxious times.”
Ms. Dornblaser added, “There’s a lot of power in old brands, in reviving old brands in new and different ways.”