More than half (56 percent) of all consumers could not recall a single new product launched in 2004, despite (or perhaps because of) a 7 percent increase in advertising spending, to $268 billion in 2004 from $249 billion the year before, according to the third annual Schneider/Stagnito Communications Most Memorable New Product Launch Survey.

Those new products rose above the 31,185 introduced in 2004 were once again more likely to be extensions of existing well-known brand names rather than entirely new products.

Based on feedback from more than 1,000 consumers nationwide, InsightExpress reported that 26 percent of consumers remembered the launch of Glad Press’n Seal, which was the most memorable new product of the year Also among the Top 10 were Coca-Cola C2 (24 percent); Clorox ToiletWand (23 percent); Apple Mini iPod (21 percent); Swiffer Sweep+Vac (21 percent.); Gillette’s M3Power Razor (20 percent); Hershey’s Swoops (19 percent); Oral-B Brush-Ups (18 percent); Pepsi Edge (17 percent) and Febreze Scentstories (16 percent).

“Our survey results show that marketers face a tremendous challenge gaining consumer awareness for new products,” says Joan Schneider, president of Boston public relations firm Schneider Communications and author of New Product Launch: 10 Proven Strategies. “While Americans are open to trying new products, only 19 percent describe themselves as early adopters.

In fact, a little more than half (52 percent) “only buy new products when they absolutely have to,” up from 43 percent in 2003.

“Competition for consumer attention has never been fiercer and marketers are realizing they need to look at non-traditional marketing tactics to break through the clutter when planning a new product launch,” says Schneider. “This year’s number one product, Glad Press’n Seal, used a multi-faceted launch approach.”

Positioned as the “world’s first sealing wrap,” the new Glad product uses a new technology called “Grip Tex” (derived from the main ingredient in chewing gum) that adheres to the container and keeps food fresher longer. Most consumers polled remembered the launch of new Glad Press’n Seal because of its advertising and a series of strategic alliances and promotions.

National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Week, a partnership with Whirlpool Home Appliances in April 2004 in which Americans were surveyed to discover how they are managing food storage in refrigerators, highlighted the wrap’s new technology and reinforced Glad’s positioning as “food freshness experts.” In December 2004, meanwhile, Glad and Gold Medal Flour promoted a new Gold Medal Cookie Exchange kit, giving free tips and recipes online for a neighborhood Cookie Exchange Party.

 “The survey results underscore it’s not how many marketing dollars are allocated but how effectively the
marketing dollars are spent that captivate consumer attention,” says Joan Holleran, editor of Stagnito’s New Products Magazine. “Not only were consumers introduced to new products from brands they already know and respect, but the new products delivered substantial benefits.”

When asked what led to a new product purchase, 65 percent said that both in-store marketing, including coupons, flyers and sampling, and design or product innovation were most important. The Top 10 motivators to buy included: needed the item (63 percent); saw it in a TV ad (63 percent); recommended by family/friends (57 percent); received a coupon (53 percent); received a free sample (50 percent); read an article in a newspaper/magazine (39 percent); saw it in a magazine ad (38 percent) and read a product review (34 percent).

Consumers said they receive most of their new product information from network TV (42 percent); cable TV (35 percent); magazines (31 percent); newspapers (30 percent); online (25 percent) and radio (15 percent).

The survey also asked consumers what trends influenced their purchases over the past year. Sixty-five percent said they were influenced by trends; 31 percent said antibacterial household products influenced purchase; 22 percent said healthy fast food; 20 percent said portability; 19 percent said low carb offerings; 19 percent said products with Splenda; 15 percent said bolder product scents; 13 percent said products focused on portion control and 12 percent said ethnic foods.