Despite the fact that advertising spending was up from $271 billion in 2005 to $285 billion in 2006, 81 percent of consumers could not name one of the top 50 new products launched in 2006, an all-time high for lack of recognition—up from 57 percent the previous year, according to the annual Schneider/Stagnito Communications/ IRI Most Memorable New Product Launch Survey.

“Relying on advertising alone for new product launches simply isn’t working,” said Joan Schneider, author of New Product Launch: 10 Proven Strategies and chief executive of Schneider Associates. “To capture consumer attention requires using an array of launch tactics that create multiple touchstones for consumers to build recognition for your new product.”
When the study looked at how people learned about new products and what influenced them to purchase, free samples lead the strength of influence index with 66 percent, followed by received a coupon with 55 percent, and recommended by family and friends and television commercials or infomercials tied for third with 46 percent.     

When asked the likelihood of buying a new product after sampling, 96 percent said they were very or somewhat likely to buy a product they sampled.

This year’s top 10 most memorable new product launches include innovations from trusted brands as well as products with new technology or distinct health benefits. Based on feedback from more than 1,000 consumers nationwide, 24 percent of consumers polled reported KFC’s Famous Bowls as the year’s most memorable, while others in the top 10 included Nintendo Wii at 22 percent; Glade PlugIns Scented Oil Light Show at 19 percent; McDonald’s Snack Wrap at 17 percent; Activia Yogurt at 11 percent; Dr. Pepper Berries & Cream at 11 percent; Gillette Fusion Power at 10 percent; Wish-Bone Salad Spritzers at 9 percent; Crest Whitestrips Renewal at 8 percent; and T.M.X. Elmo at 8 percent.

Awareness of new products ranked high for new “fast food” products at both ends of the calorie scale. But among the least influential trends were organic food products and anti-aging products, with only 14 percent and 13 percent of consumers, respectively, reporting a strong influence of these trends on their purchase behavior.