CHICAGO - Consumer packaged goods makers want you to know they think you€™re smart. That is, smart enough to save money and time, and smart enough to be ahead of the curve by buying their new products this year, USA Today reports.
But that€™s not all. The folks at Procter & Gamble, Kraft and Kimberly-Clark, among others, want you to share with the world via Facebook, YouTube and Twitter just how smart you were to purchase their new products. "Smart is the ultimate weapon in social volleyball," said Marian Salzman, a trends spotter. "It€™s the new game people play, lobbing 140 characters here, there and everywhere."
With new product debuts likely to be down this year, according to Mintel, consumers will have fewer opportunities to tout their smarts. This year, customers are asking companies to prove their products actually work like they say they will, said Lynn Dornblaser, who studies new products for Mintel. "Companies must be crystal clear with consumers on everything," she said.
Here are some of USA Today€™s top trends for 2012.
Simplified meals. Kraft Sizzling Salads Dinner Kits include bottles of salad dressing and cooking sauce that a cook only has to mix and toss to create dinner, all with a 20-minute cooking time. "That's a magical prep-time number for consumers," said Chris McClement, marketing director for Kraft dressings.
Ethnic foods. Food makers will continue to roll out Hispanic-themed foods this year, with General Mills leading the way with Dulce de Leche Cheerios, a caramel-flavored cereal. "If we just went after Hispanics, it wouldn't be big enough for us to do," said Jim Wilson, GM marketing manager.
Healthy but fast. Kashi is rolling out four Frozen Steam Meals this month. "Even busy people can eat healthier," said Jeff Johnson, senior nutritionist.
Customized snacking. Orville Redenbacher will debut its Orville Redenbacher€™s Flavors€"White Cheddar, Extra Cheese and Salt & Vinegar€"that customers can put on microwaved popcorn.
Healthy energy boosts. V8 V-Fusion + Energy, which uses natural green tea for the energy boost, combines fruits and veggies with the energy drink craze. "It's an opportunity to be a credible player in the energy space," said Dale Clemiss, vice president of beverage marketing.