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NielsenIQ announces its 2021 SA innovation awards

BASES, a NielsenIQ business, has announced the South Africa winners of the highly anticipated “BASES Top Breakthrough Innovations” 2021 awards. The awards highlight some of the most successful and well-received consumer product innovations in SA.

Innovation remains relevant in South Africa: the introduction of new products has been one of the key drivers of FMCG growth in 2021, despite the Covid-19 crisis. This research was able to capture some key trends presenting future avenues to successful launches.

NielsenIQ BASES says three key themes contributed to the winners’ success: overcoming pre-conceived notions; encouraging consumers to operate differently; and delivering a bundle to elevate the value equation.

“Covid-19 fast tracked the South African consumer’s shift to online shopping in the Food and Personal Care categories. Whereas 22% of online consumers claimed to shop for these categories online pre-Covid, this increased to 52% during Covid. This trend is likely to continue post-Covid with 56% of online consumers stating they will continue to include online retailers in their retailer repertoire in the future,” says Esti Prinsloo, NielsenIQ BASES Director of sub-Saharan Africa

“It is clear that more and more consumers are pursuing a healthy lifestyle through the products they choose to purchase and use. Manufacturers need to address these rising consumer needs to find new drivers for growth,” Prinsloo adds.

“South African consumers are looking for transparency, especially in terms of ingredient and nutritional value labelling, which they want to be clearly indicated. Clean ingredients are becoming a necessity which will help boost brand trust for those brands that utilise them and indicate so on the packaging.”

Focus on no-low alcoholic beverages

In the purchase of beverage products, Prinsloo says that during the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a noticeable shift of  consumers to zero-alcohol beverages, fuelled by the staggered alcohol bans.

“This trend will continue to a lesser degree as consumers familiarise with the benefits of this offer as an alternative beverage, for instance, during lunch occasions”.

“The increase in health awareness has impacted consumer choices with healthy ingredients doubling in importance from 18% pre-Covid-19 to 37% during Covid-19. This trend too is likely to continue in the future,” says Prinsloo.

Consumers also highlighted that wanting a healthier lifestyle would be a key reason in the future for cutting down on alcohol consumption. This would similarly pave the way for increased usage of zero/low -alcohol alternatives.

Consumers claim to like the taste, convenience and variety currently offered by the non-alcoholic beverage products. However, they feel there is room to improve on the nutritional element.

Like for other categories, consumers switched to healthier beverage alternatives such as juices and yoghurt drinks during Covid-19. An important difference is that they feel they will return to pre-Covid-19 habits in the future.

Apart from the product formulation, packaging of beverage products is also important to consumers. “While plastic or glass containers with functional elements like easy opening, storage and carrying are key, resealable packages with clear ingredient information on the label are also important,” says Prinsloo.

South African winners

Winners were identified across six categories. After careful evaluation and assessment of product sales and revenue performances, category rankings, consumer targeting strategies, differentiating factors and category benefits, these winners were selected for their outstanding ability to address consumer needs, establish meaningful connections with consumers and yield success.

Below are some of the South African winners – a full list is available below, too.

Castle Free (AB inBev) is made with the same quality home-grown ingredients used in Castle Lager which gives it the same taste, despite having 0% alcohol. This was achieved thanks to a new technology.

Tastic (Tiger Brands), long known for its parboiled rice that South Africans know and love, introduced new and affordable rice variants into the category allowing consumers to experience rice on a new sensorial level.

Blue Ribbon Squares (Premier FMCG) evolved from being a ‘lunchbox solution’ to a versatile baked good with fewer limitations. Dropping the ‘Sandwich’ qualifier showed consumers they can do more with them than make sandwiches.

Simple Truth (Checkers): This retailer  brand was built on basic principles of accessibility for its consumers by this wellness range being readily available in the Checkers supermarket.

Bobtail 2in1 Dry Dog Food (RCL Foods): Using innovative technology from its new manufacturing plant, RCL Foods added various sensorial elements and healthy ingredients to their normal pet food dry kibbles, giving more value to pets and their owners.

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