Best new products—Dr Pepper, P&G among marketers recognized for recent introductions

IRI’s Pacesetters report details new brands that overcame pandemic headwinds in 2021.

Best new products—Dr Pepper, P&G among marketers recognized for recent introductions

Dr Pepper’s cream soda line extension and Procter & Gamble’s disinfectant product Microban 24 are ranked highest in an IRI study looking at most popular new products sold in 2021. The annual New Product Pacesetters report, which is in its 27th publication this year, highlights consumer packaged goods brands with the highest sales in the first year of distribution.

The 2021 report saw sparkling beverages and alcohol take six of the top 10 spots. These included the Dr Pepper cream soda line extension and Coca-Cola Co.-owned AHA sparkling water. Corona’s hard seltzer and Michelob Ultra’s organic seltzer got third and seventh place, respectively, as hard seltzers continued a sales surge that has since slowed. 

The 200 products making IRI's list delivered a total of $6 billion in sales in their first year. To be included, brands must have completed their first year of sales within 2021.

The brands “ran the gauntlet of powering through a pandemic that first caused people to hunker down at home, and then start socializing in public again, only to hunker down again late in the year,” stated Joan Driggs, VP for content and thought leadership at IRI. “COVID-19 generated trends that both helped and hindered growth trajectories. In-home stockups eased from 2020 levels, while concurrently, interest in new products representing beverages, frozen convenience foods, household goods and self-care resulted in healthy growth.”

Caffeinated products were in-demand as people craved energy to balance home and work life during the pandemic, according to IRI. Boston Beer Co.-owned Truly Iced Tea earned sixth place in the food and beverage category, mixing alcohol, fizz and caffeine, while coffee brands including Starbucks’ Nitro Cold Brew and Dunkin’ Multi-Serve Iced Coffee made it into the top 50. 

The effects of the pandemic were also apparent in the preponderance of cleaning brands making the report. Microban 24, which produces sanitizing spray and cleaner and ran its first Super Bowl ad in 2021, was the top non-food product for 2021. Tide Hygienic Clean, an extension of P&G’s existing line, and Suave hand sanitizer got seventh and eighth respectively while WipeOut, which produces sanitizing products, ranked 10th.

Consumers were more open to experimenting with new foods as the number of meals made at home doubled versus pre-pandemic from 48% to approximately 80%, according to IRI. Nestlé’s frozen meal brand Life Cuisine ranked ninth on the list.