These are the most successful European product launches ever (and you’ve probably never heard of some of them)

Lucy Handley, special to CNBC

An unpasteurized Russian beer, an Italian mouthwash and a Turkish pancake snack have made it on to the list of the most successful FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) product launches in Europe.

Market research company Nielsen lists 11 launches, all of which saw sales of at least €7.5 million ($8 million) or £7.5 million ($9.5 million) for UK brands, in their first year and maintained at least 90 percent of that in their second year. The list includes brands from Russia and Turkey, which had to sell at least €5 million worth of product in their first year to be included on the list.

These figures compare to the average €160,000 sales that a new product makes in Europe in its first year.

Nielsen analyzed 9,900 product launches for its Breakthrough Innovation Report, which found that just 10 to 20 percent of launches make up 80 percent of sales of new products, across most categories.

These are the 11 it shortlisted.


Coca-Cola France had a problem: overall consumption of soft drinks was falling, and the French were drinking approximately 50 percent less than similar markets. At the same time, it discovered a demand for a more sophisticated, low-calorie drink. So it launched Finley, with flavors such as blood orange and grapefruit, and bubbles that were more like the fine fizz found in champagne than in regular soft drinks. Sales reached €7.5 million in the first year of launch.

Air Wick Pure

Air Wick Pure

When Reckitt Benckiser relaunched air freshener Air Wick Pure in France in 2014, it thought that consumers would like its long-lasting fragrance. However, people actually liked it because it didn't leave a residue on surfaces, which became the main benefit featuring in advertising. The launch grew the air freshener category by 6.3 percent in its first year, and sales of Air Wick Pure increased by 20 percent in its second year.

AZ Complete

AZ Complete

Flossing teeth and rinsing with mouthwash are seen as a "hassle" by people, according to research by Procter & Gamble's Italian team. So in 2011, it created an all-in-one toothpaste and mouthwash, but the product initially flopped. Revamping its packaging in 2014 to clearly show product benefits resulted in sales of €9.5 million in that year alone.

Colgate Défi Zéro Carie

Colgate Défi Zéro Carie

Défi Zéro Carie means "zero-cavity challenge" in Turkish, and Colgate-Palmolive Turkey used it as the name of a new toothpaste to help change people's perception that there's little they can do to prevent cavities developing. Colgate's eight years of research for a new sugar acid neutralizer technology paid off: eight weeks after launch Défi Zéro Cari had a 3.8 percent market share.

Süt Burger

Sut Burger

Snack manufacturer ETi is one of the market leaders in Turkey, and wanted to expand into refrigerated treats. So it decided to target mothers looking for a healthy snack for their children, while making sure kids found the product fun, and created the "Süt Burger," a burger-like pancake with a dairy filling, growing the cold snacking category in Turkey by 37 percent.

FrutoNyanya Na Progulku

FrutoNyanya Na Progulku

Russian baby food brand FrutoNyanya was well-known for its infant nutrition products, and decided to make something for older children that mothers would find easy to feed to them while they were out and about. So "Na Progulku" or "On the go" was born, with lightweight and portable packaging and flavors, as well as collectable and stackable lids.

Gold Mine Beer Zhivoe

Gold Mine Beer Zhivoe

Efes Rus, the Russian company that makes Gold Mine beer, had been considering discontinuing the product due to declining sales. So it revamped the brand, launching a fashionable "zhivoe," or unpasteurized version. Advertising alcohol on TV is banned in the country, so Efes Rus knew it would need to think differently about its packaging, and decided on a plastic design with a large lid that would look like a freshly-poured beer once opened. First-year sales topped €8 million.

Mein Café

Mein Cafe

German coffee Melitta wanted to appeal to people's emotions when advertising its Mein Café brand. So it featured a variety of people describing what they enjoy about their favorite coffee: "In my favorite coffee, there is foam in the shape of hearts," says one. The ad spot used lots of red, similar to its packaging, and Nielsen praised the spot for having both "subtle and explicit cues to solidify the brand connection in consumers' minds."

O’lala Sufle

O'lala Sufle

"Consumers aren't willing to pay for a cake they can make for much less at home," said Nihal Gül, marketing director of biscuits and cakes at Turkish manufacturer Pladis. So it created a new soufflé – one of the cakes people find hard to make and one which was also seen as an indulgence. Sales for the first year topped €5 million.

Whiskas Dry Cat Food

Whiskas dry cat food

Mars Petcare in the UK wanted to find new ways to appeal to cat owners and grow the popular Whiskas brand, so it created a dry cat food with different variants depending on the age of the pet. Its packaging was carefully considered: the age of the cat it was for was made clear to owners, using "7+" instead of "senior" to avoid any negative connotations. It created a new market for pets' parents, as around half of the cats in the UK are over 7 years-old.

Zott Sahne Joghurt Mascarpone Duett

Zott Sahne Joghurt Mascarpone Duett

It seems that German consumers love their yoghurt, especially when it's combined with a sweet sauce. German dairy Zott was founded by husband and wife team Anna and Balthasar Reiter in 1926, and is still family-run, with a turnover of €902 million. But it wasn't until 1980 when its classic Zott Sahne Joghurt was launched – "sahne" meaning cream. The Mascarpone Duett version combines cheese with fruit.

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