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Nielsen Reveals Winners of the 2017 Innovation Excellence Awards

China, Shanghai, 2017. September 6 —Global leading information and measurement company, Nielsen, today revealed the winners of the 2017 Innovation Excellence Awards in Shanghai. More than 250 leaders from various industries, including food & beverage, personal care, consumer durables, along with Nielsen’s experts on innovation and consumer insights gathered to discuss the unique challenges of innovating in China and how the market will evolve in the future.

Innovation is Key to Success in China

Today, innovation is not an option, it is of great importance to win in the Chinese market. Nielsen data shows that 65% of FMCG growth comes from new product launches. Over the past 3 years, 22% of all value sales in CPG has come from new product launches. But China faces some unique challenges compared to the global innovation environment.

Latest Nielsen research found that 72% of Chinese consumers purchase new products every time they go shopping, which is far higher than the 57% global average, and such consumption habits will be further deepened with the development of digital media and e-commerce.  It proves that China requires scale in innovation pipeline for manufacturers to sustain growth over time.

In the meantime, innovation in China follows the principle of “fade fast”. Nielsen data shows that over 2/3rd of new products launch in China have short life-cycle, that is, they launch and fade within 18 months. Between 2014 and 2016, the number of new products survived for one year accounts for 70% of short life cycle innovations.

Local VS MNC

The Nielsen data shows that while China’s local enterprises release a greater number of new products into the market, those that multinational companies are putting onto shelves have a higher success rate in general. Local manufacturers dominate innovation in terms of products numbers, with 80% of new launches coming from local companies. However, MNCs are 20% more efficient with their new products. Local and MNCs can learn from each other in terms of speed to market and consumer innovation process respectively.

“Creating innovative products that satisfy an un-met consumer need is not easy, and turning that into sustainable sales growth in China is more challenging. Today’s retail landscape requires innovative and localized thinking, and an efficient process that allows manufacturers to quickly and effectively launch new concepts into the market,” said Vishal Bali, managing director of Nielsen China.

Winning in Innovation

Innovation is only going to get tougher moving forward. Changing audiences of baby-boomers and silvers and the high pace of urbanization will require manufacturers to move fast in understanding consumers’ specific needs and innovate against that. An ever-evolving retail landscape and technology shift creates new opportunity and challenges in deploying new products to market.

The innovation process of “design thinking” has stayed the same for years – Discover Ideas, Develop Products, Deploy In-Market. However, Nielsen foresees a fundamental shift and disruption in how brand owners should apply this process to win in China.

From a consumer world of mega-trends like convenience, health & wellness and functional segmentation, trends have become highly fragmented, niche and driven more by experiences. Health & Wellness has fragmented into quality of total lifestyle, enjoyable moments, beauty and sharing experiences. This plays out in 9% growth in beauty channels and 3x increase in the sports-experience industry. Such fragmentation opens up room for hyper-targeting when ideating for the new consumer. 

The innovation process in CPG companies today heavily relies on internal ideation and iteration. Winning in China, especially on short-cycle innovations, will require moving to co-creation and crowdsourcing, and optimization instead of iteration. Collaborative ideation and optimization has shown to result in 3.5 times more ideas and 80% more sales in-market over traditional and slower processes.

“Companies need to innovate faster and more in line with current market demand. Enterprises need to develop a consistent strategic innovation processes: They need to find out present and future goals, place consumer demand in the central position of innovation and optimize their products, achieve real-time respond to the ever-changing market,” Vishal Bali concluded.

Winners of 2017 Nielsen Innovation Excellence Awards

The winners of Nielsen Innovation Excellence Awards were reviewed from thousands of new products that launched in China over the past 2 years based on criteria of differentiation, consumer relevance, and ability to sustain in-market. Winners were selected by looking at whether they introduced a differentiated offering or benefit (excludes pack size and new flavor), the value share they generated in Year 1 of launch with their category or segment as well as their potential to maintain or gain share over 18 months in-market.

Winners list of Nielsen 2017 Innovation Excellence Awards (Alphabetical by Manufacturer name)




Excellence in



Abbott Eleva Organic

Product Advantage

Bright Dairy & Food


Momchilovtsi 2 Fruits & 3 Vegetables Yogurt

Product Advantage

General Mills Yoplait

Yoplait Perle de lait Yogurt

Packaging & Product Advantage


L’Oréal Men Expert

L’Oréal Men Hydra Power

Marketing Communication & Execution

Lee Kum Kee

Lee Kum Kee

Lee Kum Kee Salt Reduced Soy Sauce

Product Differentiation



Dove Fruit

Consumer Relevance



belVita Breakfast Biscuits

Consumer Relevance

Nongfu Spring

Tea π

Tea π

Creative & Marketing Execution



Lay’s Deep Ridged

Product Advantage

Procter & Gamble


Gillette Fusion Proglide Razor

Product Advantage

Reckitt Benckiser


Durex Air

Product Advantage & Marketing  Execution



Seeyoung Ginger Hair Strengthener Shampoo

Product Advantage



Zhonghua Huangqingsu Toothpaste

Product Advantage



Classmate Xiaoming

Creative & Marketing Execution



Yili Grain More Oat Milk

Consumer Revance