This year’s Breakthrough Innovation process reviewed over 50,000 launches across the EU over the past year, with the 25 that made it onto the 2021 list having succeeded in making meaningful connections with consumers, an impressive feat within an increasingly crowded marketplace, said the market researcher.
The UK dominated the leaderboard, accounting for 60% of Europe’s top Breakthrough Innovations, with products from France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Russia, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the Netherlands also trending.
Crystallising into a standout theme
The 10th annual report reveals a standout theme of ‘mindful living’, with over half of the winners this year sporting at least one ‘mindful living’ claim, said Celine Grena, European BASES leader.
“It is worth noting that when you go back to the first report launched 10 years ago, trends such as shopping locally, sustainability and convenience were the ones to watch,” said Grena.
“While these trends still exist, a number of these are gradually crystallising into the standout theme of mindful living. In fact, over half of the winners this year have at least one mindful living claim, versus only about one quarter in 2019.”
According to NielsenIQ, this year’s entries were overwhelmingly dominated by line extensions, with nearly all of the winners coming from existing brands.
It also said that among the factors defining their success, the winners saw an 86% average value sales increase from Year 1 to Year 2 – particularly notable in a landscape that typically sees more than half of new products decline in their second year on the market.
Even more impressive, of the 98 winners named in the report over the past decade, over 90% are still in the market today.
While mass potential, longevity and brand incrementality are three of the qualities to qualify for the list, other box tickers included continued evolution (opening up new consumption occasions and brand extensions) and category distinction or appeal toward a specific consumer target.
The demand for planet-friendly products is growing and consumers are willing to pay a premium for products that are kinder to the environment – so key attributes included natural ingredients, waste reduction and more sustainable production. This gave manufacturers an opportunity to drive premiumisation, with 67% of this year’s winners offering premium benefits – whether it was from the product itself or the packaging – a trend that NielsenIQ predicts will gain further momentum in the years to come.
Consumers want to know what they are consuming, where it is coming from and how it impacts their health, so brands will need to put more emphasis on transparency to achieve sales success in the future. This year, the claims to inspire the most trust include clean (64%), locally grown (52%) and ethically sourced (39%).
Products boasting added health benefits to support the mind and body also swept up a number of accolades – a trend not confined to humans as the pet food sector increasingly taps in with free-from credentials.
These heightened demands have not negated the consumer’s desire for a little luxury though, and brands that came in with better-for-you indulgence shone through. The market saw a rise in launches citing low or no sugar, low-salt, carbs and fats and minimal calories.
The trends for 2021 and beyond
“Through this year’s winners, we can see that while health and wellness remains an important area of focus, sustainability is increasing in importance within the European market amid growing concerns about climate change,” said Grena.
“As this trend gathers pace, manufacturers will need to respond to this rising social issue through innovative packaging design, and raising awareness of environmentally conscious credentials, to drive impact for new product launches.
“Premiumisation is another key area we’re seeing develop, both from a packaging and product performance perspectives, with many consumers willing to pay more for these benefits.”
“Consumers today are more aware and informed than ever. As a result, they expect much more from their products – whether that’s health benefits, sustainability, locality or convenience – and are willing to pay a premium to get it.”
She added this year’s winners have also built their success through syncing their innovation strategy with their inmarket activation.
“The most successful activation strategies leverage multiple trade and media touchpoints to address the full breadth of their potential consumers.”