Nielsen Breakthrough Products 2015

Nielsen announces its 2015 Breakthrough Innovation Winners

Creating game-changing innovation is challenging, and turning innovation into enduring sales is that much harder. Nielsen studied over 3 500 consumer products that were introduced to the market in 2013 and determined which products had breakthrough outcomes in their categories that were sustained two years later.

Brands vying to be one of the winners of Nielsen’s 2015 Breakthrough Innovation Project were tasked with meeting three criteria:

  • distinctiveness (more than refinements to existing brands like ingredient reformulations, repackaging or size changes)
  • relevance (earning at least $50 million in the first year)
  • endurance (achieving at least 90% of year-one sales in year two).

For example, PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew team looked at what certain consumers—especially millennials—wanted in a morning day-part beverage that would provide the boost they desired but was not yet available. Mtn Dew Kickstart was born.

Overall investment in future innovation is at a seven-year high, according to Nielsen. The 2015 study assessed 3,522 initiatives launched in 2013 and identified the 12 award recipients. In the four years Nielsen has done the study, it looked at more than 20,000 product launched over a six-year period (2008-2013) and recognized 74 winners.

This year’s Breakthrough Innovation Project identified only twelve that met the Nielsen requirements for distinctiveness, relevance and endurance to earn the top spot. The winners are:

  • Advanced Haircare, L’Oreal Paris
  • Atkins Frozen Meals, Atkins Nutritionals
  • Duracell Quantum, Procter & Gamble
  • Lunchables Uploaded, Kraft Foods
  • Monster Energy Ultra, Monster Energy Company
  • Mountain Dew Kickstart, PepsiCo
  • Müller Yogurt, Muller Quaker Dairy (PepsiCo)
  • Redd’s Apple Ale, MillerCoors
  • Special K Flatbread Breakfast Sandwiches, Kellogg’s
  • The Red Bull Editions, Red Bull
  • Tidy Cats LightWeight, Nestlé Purina
  • TOSTITOS Cantina Tortilla Chips and Salsa, Frito-Lay (PepsiCo)

Setting aside whether some of these products meet personal interpretatiosn of the word “innovative”, the team at Nielsen posits that innovation isn’t random. Instead, they say, it’s a science, and they created a theory to explain it.

Their “Jobs Theory” says that successful innovation products are those with “a job to be done”. That is, they do bad jobs better.

“Good innovators do just that,” says Rob Wengel, SVP of Innovation at Nielsen. “They find the places where we’re either not satisfied or using alternatives when the products aren’t fulfilling our needs.”

Read the 2015 Breakthrough Innovation Report here