Orabrush: USA Today named Product to Watch for 2012

Orabrush was named one of 10 new products to watch for in 2012 by USA Today.

Gosh, I’m smart.  That’s how the big consumer-packaged-goods players — from Procter & Gamble to Kraft to Kimberly-Clark — want you to feel about yourself for buying the new household products that they’ll be rolling out in 2012.

Some will try to make you feel smart for saving money. Some, for saving time. And some for being a tad ahead of the cultural curve. New products are the life blood of brands — making them even more crucial in a topsy-turvy economy. The goal in 2012 isn’t just to get you to buy the new product, but also to nudge you to very publicly gloat on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube about how savvy you were to make the purchase.

Not only is it free advertising, it’s the most effective kind. It’s where we increasingly go to find out about new products. The number of folks who turned to social media as a source to learn about new products more than doubled over just the past year — from 24% in 2010 to 49% in 2011, reports a new study by Sentient Decision Science for Schneider Public Relations.

“Smart is the ultimate weapon in social volleyball,” says trends spotter Marian Salzman. “It’s the new game people play, lobbing 140 characters here, there and everywhere.”

But the great race to catch the public’s fancy with a new food, drink or gadget will almost certainly have fewer entries next year. U.S. product introductions will likely shrink in 2012, projects Mintel, the research giant. They shrank in 2011, too, to about 37,600 vs. roughly 41,000 in 2010, Mintel reports.

In some cases, consumers will even be willing to spend more to get less. “But there must be a benefit that outweighs the ‘less-ness’ of the product,” says Lynn Dornblaser, new products guru at Mintel.

One thing’s for sure in 2012: Whatever you’re selling had better do what it claims to do. Or it’ll take social media heat.

The key trend-within-the-trend of 2012’s new products is this simple consumer demand of new product makers: Prove it. So says Dornblaser. “Companies must be crystal clear with consumers on everything,” she says.

At the same time, many products will continue to shrink. Companies can charge less for stripped-down products made with less material.

“Less is less,” says Tom Vierhile, innovation insights editor at Datamonitor, the research specialist.

Here are 10 key trends — and some products latching onto them — that appear to have potential to be hits in 2012:

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#10:  Weird hygiene. We have gotten used to wacky whitening strips and flavored fluoride rinses. But does the thought of brushing your tongue sound icky?

Get ready to brush.

A tiny brand called Orabrush last year rolled out via social media and caught fire, convincing millions to buy its $4.99 tongue-cleaning brush. Now, in 2012, it’s rolling out a companion Orabrush Tongue Foam that uses natural enzymes to rid the mouth of bacteria — and bad breath.

See online at http://mediagallery.usatoday.com/Hot+products+and+marketing+trends+for+2012/G3190.