Trends Spotlight: Flavorful Innovation Wins in North American Food and Beverage Launches

by | May 30, 2024

What’s required to create a winning food or beverage? While we often wish we had the powers of an oracle, we usually look for clues by deconstructing the success stories behind today’s hottest products. What makes certain brands shine while others fade away? Is it the trendy flavors buzzing on social media? The functional benefits that resonate with health-conscious consumers? Or perhaps the clever messaging that taps into cultural conversations?

Let’s take an exciting tour of recent food and beverage launches, where we’ll uncover the elements that contributed to their triumphs. We’ll delve into the latest trends, reveal how brands are hitting the mark, and offer insights to support your new product development (NPD) efforts. But first, let’s examine why tracking industry wins is crucial for developers and identify the key metrics that define success in the fast-paced food and beverage landscape.

Why Monitor Food and Beverage Wins?

Monitoring successful new products is a valuable way for your team to get news about competitors, discover shopper needs, and highlight opportunities for your own portfolio.

Inspiration: You’ll have insights into trends, preferences, and format or flavor innovation that could represent opportunities or gaps in your portfolio and potentially inspire your NPD or marketing plans.

Shopper Needs: By analyzing shopper reactions to new products, you can uncover commonalities of successful launches. Which flavor, format, or functional needs do winning products address? What do winners offer that warrants a higher (or more cost-effective) price?

Opportunities: Monitoring launch activity in your category(ies) helps you proactively identify threats to your market share and adjust your plans appropriately. Should you follow the lead of successful brands or put a unique spin on a winning theme?

How To Define A Food and Beverage Win?

FlavorSum’s experts use a mix of signals to quantify food and beverage success, including:

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Financial metrics: dollar sales, market share, growth, online orders

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Shopper metrics: social “buzz,” concept sentiment, satisfaction, trial and repeat purchases

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Industry response: distribution, awards, accolades

Check with your team to determine your parameters for in-market success as you begin to gather insights about recent innovations.

Flavorful Food and Beverage Wins

CULTURED DAIRY CROSSOVER DELIVERS SIMPLE INDULGENCE

Häagen-Dazs Strawberry Cultured Crème

Cultured dairy is experiencing a renaissance in North America. As we’ve highlighted in a previous blog, dairy brands win when they align innovation with functional needs and flavor preferences. For this launch, Häagen-Dazs lent their brand reputation for indulgence and creaminess to a spoonable yogurt-like treat. Launched in the summer of 2023, Cultured Creme uses a unique blend of dairy cultures for a smoother taste and a distinctly luxurious take on spoonable yogurt.

Success Metrics

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Shopper Sentiment: 59% of people responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product, significantly outperforming other yogurts (Mintel Consumer Sentiment Panel).

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Financial Metric: Nielsen IQ data for Total FMCG Retailers + Convenience shows that the single-serve cup generated more than $4 million in sales. The SKU is among the Top 35 (out of more than 300) single-serve yogurt SKUs in U.S. distribution in the last 42 weeks.

RTE CEREAL BUILDS ON LARGER CULTURAL MILESTONES

Post Berry Pebbles

First launched for Women’s History Month, Post’s Berry Pebbles builds on broader cultural shifts by promoting women who have been pioneers in their professional fields. The back of the box highlights Florence Kimball, the first woman veterinarian to receive a degree in the United States, and Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. Following its limited release in 2023, Post announced Berry Pebbles would become a long-term addition to its flavor lineup.

Success Metrics

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Shopper Sentiment: 56% responded that they likely or definitely would buy this product, significantly outperforming other ready-to-eat cereals.

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Financial Metric: Launched in March 2023 as a limited edition, the 2024 re-launch generated 68% more units and 47% more dollars.

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Rave Reviews: “Upon first taste, customers wished berry was a permanent flavor and scrambled to buy extras so they’d have them after the limited supply runs out” (Mashable).

RTD HARD TEA STANDS OUT WITH REFRESHING FLAVORS

Voodoo Ranger – Hard Tea Variety Pack

It’s hard to stand out in a category that sees as many new launches as RTD alcoholic beverages. Voodoo Ranger’s combination of refreshing, summery flavors and the convenience of RTD is a solid win for the brand. It’s made with steeped black tea powder to deliver a refreshing iced tea taste alongside a natural kick of caffeine—all with a 7% ABV.

Success Metrics

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Shopper Sentiment: 36% likely or definitely would buy this product, outperforming other RTD cocktails.

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Financial Metric: Launched in Q1 of 2024, the SKU ranks in the top five among more than 450 new RTDs introduced during the same period in the U.S.

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Rave Reviews:

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“I think it is probably the best hard tea I have ever had so far.”

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“The booze flavor is pretty well hidden for a 7% drink. Would recommend.”

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“Best tasting and highest % hard teas, I am a big fan of the Peach and Razz Pop flavor.”

LEADING CSD PUTS A SPICEY TWIST ON A POPULAR FRUIT FLAVOR

Raspberry Spiced Coca-Cola

Not every successful launch is completely on trend with desired functional benefits. Sometimes, the right flavor combination from a trusted brand is enough to bring home a win. Coca-Cola combined one of the most popular flavors (raspberry launches are up 32%) with the emerging “spice” characteristic (50% more launches in the last year).

Success Metrics

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Shopper Sentiment: 44% likely or definitely would buy this product, significantly outperforming other carbonated soft drinks (CSDs).

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Financial Metric: The #1 CSD flavor profile launched in Q1 (across sizes and sugar / zero sugar options).

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Social Metric: “Raspberry spiced” is a buzzy concept on social media with conversations increasing 12% in the last year.

SNACK BAR COMBINES TEXTURE AND INDULGENT FLAVOR

Chex Mix Double Chocolate Bars

In a previous blog, we wrote about snack bars using texture to create exciting sensory experiences. General Mills entry takes the crunchy texture of Chex Mix and layers it with an indulgent flavor to create a unique and satisfying experience. Only 38% of bar launches include a texture claim on the front of the package, and crunchy claims have increased 34% in the last year.

Success Metrics

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Shopper Sentiment: 58% likely or definitely would buy this product, significantly outperforming other cereal and snack bars.

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Financial Metric: Ranked in the top five cereal and snack bar launches for Q1 2024.

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Social Metric: Conversations about the flavor combination increased 11% in the last year.

SNACK BAR OFFERS MINI FORMAT AND REAL FRUIT

Nature’s Bakery Mini Raspberry Fig Bars

Snack bars are a go-to source for energy and satiety, especially for people who want a convenient option that supports health and wellness goals. This snack bar from Nature’s Bakery builds on the popularity of raspberry and taps into the “Little Treats” trend of finding gratification in smaller bites.

Success Metrics

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Shopper Sentiment: 47% likely or definitely would buy this product, significantly outperforming other snack and nutrition bars.

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Financial Metric: Ranked in the top seven snack and nutrition bar launches in Q1 (out of more than 125 introduced in the US).

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Social Metric: Conversations about raspberry increased 22% in the last year.

SPARKLING WATER TAPS TROPICAL FLAVORS FOR ENERGY AND REFRESHMENT

Bubly Burst Peach Mango Sparkling Water

Tropical flavors like mango deliver a sweet-tart zing that aligns with alertness and energy. Mango flavor combinations were among our flavor predictions for 2024, and tropical flavors have appeared in 17% more food and beverage launches in the last year. Bubbly’s new subtly sweetened sparkling water caters to shoppers who want a flavorful boost but aren’t ready to trade off the sweetness of soda for unsweetened sparkling water.

Success Metrics

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Shopper Sentiment: 58% likely or definitely would buy this product, significantly outperforming other flavored sparkling waters.

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Financial Metric: Ranked in the top 20 Q1 sparkling and flavored water launches (out of more than 350 introduced in the US).

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Social Metric: Conversations about peach and mango flavor combinations increased 7% in the last year.

Turn Your Next Idea Into A Flavorful Win with FlavorSum

Looking for insights to fuel your next food and beverage innovation? Flavorsum’s experts are continuously monitoring trends and sharing insights through FlavorSum Discover. Our weekly blogs and quarterly flavor trends can help you reduce the headaches associated with food and beverage development. Sign up for FlavorSum Discover, or let us know if you have a specific challenge we can help you solve.

Author

Phil a’Becket

Phil a’Becket is the Senior Consumer Insights Manager for FlavorSum. He has eight years of experience in food ingredient market research, focusing on both primary research and secondary data analysis. He earned his MBA from Clemson University, and joined FlavorSum in 2022.

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