NEW YORK: Hershey's, Kraft and the Kellogg Company are the firms seen as having the best innovation programmes by US consumers, a study has revealed.

The Temkin Group, the consultancy, surveyed 5,000 people, asking panellists how likely they would be to try new goods and services rolled out by leading brand owners "right away", with Hershey's, the confectioner, leading the charts on 52.8%.

The firm has established the objective of securing one point of its "growth algorithm" per year via this route, and is currently "well ahead" of such a target for 2011

"It's really about sticky innovation that's additive to both ourselves and retailers," said John Bilbrey, CEO of Hershey's. "Our goal is not about quantity, it's about quality and ensuring that they have net contribution as after cannibalisation to our business."

Meanwhile, Kraft, the food manufacturer, claimed second with 48.6%. The company recently reported that its "biggest bet" grocery launches had added $350m in revenue during the first nine months of this year.

Third place went to Kellogg, the cereal and snack specialist, which hopes to generate $800m in sales worldwide from new introductions this year, with even more ambitious aims for next year.

"For 2012, we expect nearly $900m in innovation, driven by proven ideas such as Krave cereal in the US and expansion of our Special K Cracker Chips line," said John Bryant, the company's CEO.

McDonald's, the quick service chain, was fourth with 46.6%, beating Nestlé, a major rival to Kraft, on 46.3%. Coca-Cola and General Mills were tied in sixth position, yielding 45.6% apiece.

"Successful innovation isn't just about quantity. It's about quality," said Peter Erickson, General Mills' SVP, innovation, technology and quality. "We remain focused on constantly delivering great-tasting differentiated products that address consumers' needs."

Google, the online giant, was the first member of the top ten from outside the consumer goods sector, taking eighth on 42.6%. Johnson & Johnson, the healthcare giant, received 41.1% and PepsiCo, the food and beverage conglomerate, logged 40.9%.

Overall, Hershey's attracted the strongest ratings from older and low-income shoppers, while Google posted the best returns among younger and more affluent respondents.

Apple, the electronics pioneer and widely-regarded as one of the premier firms when it comes to R&D, was in eighteenth on 34.6%.

Data sourced from The Temkin Group; additional content by Warc staff