Tea Innovation Lacking in New Consumer Goods

April 25, 2016 No Comments Data Dan Bolton

Five years ago tea was seen as innovative and a fast-growing consumer packaged goods (CPG) category according to annual sales statistics compiled by , a leading provider of big data, predictive analytics and forward-looking insights. At the time tea placed as one of the top 10 new product introductions.

Last year three beverages made the IRI Pacesetters Top 10 brands list but tea once again missed the cut.

Thousands of new brands hit retail shelves during 2015, with 54% of all new product launches hailing from the food and beverage aisles. The top-selling 200 new brands captured cumulative year-one sales of more than $6.5 billion across IRI’s multi-outlet geography, according to IRI. But median year-one dollar sales among food and beverages were $19.6 million in 2015, down from $22.9 million in 2014.


“The key to launching a successful new product today is not only understanding your core and target shoppers but also how these shoppers view the CPG marketplace,” said Susan Viamari, vice president, Thought Leadership, IRI. “Their viewpoint is very different from manufacturers and retailers. Consumers think about satisfying needs in terms of eating occasions, drinking occasions and product usage occasions. CPGs need to recognize which CPG categories compete for each occasion. It varies by mind-set, daypart, channel and shopper, so the days of one-size-fits-all strategies are gone forever.”

Gold Peak Chilled Tea was the last to make the list in 2011 with first-year sales of $44.3 million. It went on to become a $1 billion brand, one of several in the ready-to-drink category.

That year Larry Levin, executive vice president, Consumer Insights, SymphonyIRI noted: “Nine coffee and tea innovations achieved New Product Pacesetter status, versus an historic average of four per year between 2002 and 2011.”

No tea has since made the list.

McCafe K-Cups earned the top spot with $172.7 million in first-year sales.  Fairlife milk was second among beverages with $87.1 million in sales. The brand uses a patented process to filter out lactose and reduce the sugars in milk. One hundred calorie per serving Simply Juices Drinks grossed $70.5 million to become one of the first juices to make the list in several years.

In 2014 four beverages also made the Pacesetters list, Bud Light Straw-Ber-Rita at $128.6 million, Red Bull Editions $83 million and Skinny Pop $76.4 million and REDD’S Apple Ale.

In 2013 three beverages made the Top 10: Bud Light Lime-A-Rita at $97.4 million and Eight O’Clock K-Cups at $89.8 million and Pepsi NEXT at $83.2 million.

In 2012 Starbucks Coffee K-Cups were named the most successful consumer packaged beverage product grossing $198.9 million. Bud Light Platinum grossed $162.2 million, TruMoo earned $158.3 million and MiO earned $127.6 million and Sparkling ICE grossed $122.7 million that year to round out the top five.

Top 10 Food and Beverage Brands  ($ Millions)
(Total Year-One Dollar Sales, Multi-Outlet)
  1. McCafé $172.7 
  2. Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh BOLD $146.2
  3. Dannon Oikos Triple Zero $108.0
  4. fairlife milk $87.1
  5. Yoplait Greek 100 Whips! $83.6
  6. Chili’s At Home $78.9
  7. Simply Juice Drinks $70.5
  8. Breyers Gelato Indulgences $66.9
  9. Cobblestone Bread Co. $60.2
10. Cheerios Protein $49.8

Source: IRI Market Advantage


Product innovation is happening despite a challenging market environment. Though consumers tend to rely on a limited number of CPG products as their “go to” pantry solutions, they remain open to new products that make their lives easier, more exciting and and/or more rewarding. In fact, they are looking for product manufacturers to serve a wide variety of wants and needs, according to IRI.

Successful new product development, though, can be quite daunting. Generally accepted new product failure rates range from 60% to 80%. Still, innovation is critical to long-term survival for manufacturers. IRI’s New Product Pacesetters is an industry-recognized benchmark analysis of exceptional first-year CPG sales success for newly launched products. These brands are textbook examples of innovation done right and provide marketers with a road map on best practices, including the importance of year two, to ensure their own new product innovation is successful with shoppers.


Related Posts:

About The Author