Nielsen: Marks of innovative products

CHICAGO — Innovation. It’s what everybody in the Sands Expo Center is looking for — that kind of traffic-driving innovation that breaks the mold and generates $100 million to $200 million in first-year sales. But what does innovation look like?

“As marketers, this is what you live for,” Taddy Hall, Nielsen SVP innovation shared during a recent webinar celebrating this past year’s innovation success stories. It’s like capturing lightning in a bottle because, in addition to steadily climbing top-line sales, truly breakthrough innovations help charge up a sales team and invigorate the buyer community.

The common threads that tie breakthrough innovation together include distinctiveness (i.e., no line extensions), relevance (i.e., generates enough consumer traction to yield at least $50 million in first-year sales) and endurance (i.e., brands achieve at least 90% of year one sales).

“What we find with breakthrough winners is that they do perform vital, unmet jobs in the lives of consumers,” Hall said. Successful innovations reconfigure benefits to perform poorly addressed jobs, and nailing that kind of consumer fulfillment can actually transform a category. “Building successful innovation offerings is much more straightforward once you understand the consumer’s job to be done,” Hall added.

Last year’s 14 “winners,” culled out of 3,400 new product launches, included the likes of Chattem’s Allegra, Hershey’s Reese’s Minis and Procter & Gamble’s Downy Unstopables.