Consumers struggle to recall new products as gloom dampens message impact

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 19th November 2008

Recession “crunches” new product recall to all-time low in the US as consumers seek comfort in familiar brands, though twists on familiar foods were among the most memorable.

Advertisers and brand managers have new challenges to face as consumers are less aware of new product launches than ever before. That’s the key finding from the seventh annual Most Memorable New Product Launch Survey (MMNPL) in the US, conducted by Schneider Associates, Mintel International and IRI.

When asked about new products from 2008, 69% of survey respondents could not remember a single new product launched during the year. Even the most memorable new product of 2008, the Wii Fit, was recalled by only 22% of respondents in aided recall*. Rising food and gas prices, fear of economic recession and attention-grabbing political campaigns are all to blame, according to researchers.

Grocery Aisle

“2008 was a year of distractions, with the average American’s attention pulled in many different directions simultaneously,” Lynn Dornblaser, Director of Trend Insight at Mintel, noted. “The fervent presidential campaigns and election genuinely excited many voters. But even more, we saw people deeply impacted by the financial crisis. From
higher food prices to unemployment to housing scares, economic struggles seriously affected the way many people lived this year.”

Char Partelow, Senior Vice President, Panel Consulting Group at IRI stated that Americans had cut back on spending, making them inherently less aware of new products. “Because many people can only afford the basics, they’re sticking to what they know, products and services that bring them comfort,” he suggested. “We found that ‘a trusted brand name’ ranked as the number one quality respondents looked for when buying new products. Many Americans are simply less interested in ‘risking it’ on a new product.”

“Sticking to what they know” explains the prevalence of familiar food and drink brands on the MMNPL survey winners list. Of the products most frequently remembered in aided recall*, five were new twists on familiar food and drink: Bud Light Lime, McDonald’s Southern Style Chicken Biscuit & Sandwich, Kraft Mac & Cheese Crackers, Gatorade G2 and Yoplait Fiber One. “Consumers recalled new product launches from brands they know and love,” Julie Hall,Vice President, Schneider Associates, advised. “McDonald’s, Kraft and Bud Light are trusted brands that gave people a new variation on something familiar.”

The Most Memorable New Product Launch Survey was conducted online among 1,000 respondents aged 18 and over during September 2008. Given a list of 50 new product launches from 2008, people most commonly remembered the following:

1. Nintendo Wii Fit (recalled by 22% of respondents in aided recall*)
2. iPod Touch (16%)
3. Bud Light Lime (15%)
4. McDonald’s Southern Style Chicken Biscuit & Sandwich (14%)
5. Kraft Mac & Cheese Crackers (13%)
6. KY Yours + Mine Couples Lubricant (12%)
7. Gatorade G2, Yoplait Fiber One (11%, two-way tie)
8. MacBook Air, Rock Band, Burger King Apple Fries, Neosporin Neo To
Go!, Kraft Bagel-fuls (8%, five-way tie)

*For aided recall, Mintel gave survey participants a list of 50 new grocery, personal and beauty care, technology and toy products from 2008. This list was selected in advance by Mintel, IRI and Schneider Associates… For more information on the survey, please visit