Consumer poll points to year's best rollouts

BOSTON: The new $20 bill was the most memorable product introduction of 2003, according to a new survey of consumers.

BOSTON: The new $20 bill was the most memorable product introduction of 2003, according to a new survey of consumers.

Crest Night Effects Nighttime Whitening System ranked second, and was followed by the launch of Schering-Plough's over-the-counter Claritin allergy medication. The survey was sponsored by Boston-based PR firm Schneider & Associates and Stagnito Communications, a Chicago-area publisher that produces Stagnito's New Product magazine.

Public relations efforts played major roles in the most successful new product rollouts last year, according to Joan Schneider, president of the Schneider & Associates.

"Manufacturers are looking to use all the tools in the PR toolbox," she said. "They're really trying to touch consumers in all the ways they can."

Product introductions that made excellent use of PR included the $20 bill, over-the-counter Prilosec, Dawn's Complete dish liquid, and Lay's Stax potato chips, Schneider said.

The survey found that word-of-mouth referrals from family and friends are the strongest factor influencing consumers' willingness to try new products.

Approximately 55% of the survey's 1,000 respondents said recommendations from family members or friends led them to buy new products, ahead of TV advertising, at 53%, and store ads, at 48%.

Brand reputation also played a major role in the trial of a new product, with 53% saying they will try a new product because it is from a brand they already know and trust.

Additionally, 70% said they often recommend new products to family or friends, and 51% said they are always looking for new products to try.

The online survey, conducted by InsightExpress in January 2004, found that 50% of consumers couldn't recall one new product introduction from 2003 without assistance. That marked an increase from 33% the prior year. A record 33,678 new products hit stores shelves in the US last year.

The survey also asked consumers which new products they actually bought last year and found that Campbell's Chunky and Select M'm! Soups to Go ranked first, with 17% of respondents buying them. Second was Dawn's Complete dish liquid, followed by Lay's Stax chips and V8 Splash smoothies.

Schneider & Associates specializes in PR for new product launches. It recently worked with Subway as it rolled out its new Subway Wraps, low-carb alternatives to the chain's traditional sandwiches.

This is the second year that Schneider has sponsored the survey, and the first year Stagnito has sponsored it.

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