NEW YORK: Apple, Microsoft and Kimberly-Clark are among the companies behind product launches which made a substantial impression with consumers this year, a study has found.

Communications and PR firm Schneider Associates surveyed 1,000 people to establish which introductions had been the "most memorable".

Apple's iPad, the pioneering tablet device, headed the rankings, and was mentioned by 42% of the panel.

Some 3m units were sold in its first 80 days, and analysts predict a further 6m could be snapped up during the holiday season, confirming what Schneider Associates called "the most memorable Apple launch ever."

"We're seeing great enthusiasm for iPad from consumers, educators and businesses," Peter Oppenheimer, Apple's cfo, said in October.

Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system occupied second, after the company asked shoppers about how to improve on its predecessor, Vista.

Numerous "brand lovers" even held small pre-launch parties for Windows 7 in their homes.

Rich Reynolds, Microsoft's general manager and worldwide commercial director for Windows 7, suggested this offering has set new benchmarks, selling 240m licences and receiving customer satisfaction scores of 94%.

"I would say if we described the Windows 7 year in review, it's definitely been the most successful product we've ever launched from a Windows perspective," said Reynolds.

M&M's Pretzel Chocolate Candies assumed third, made available in May through a tie-up with American Idol, and achieving US sales of $708m by early October, per SymphonyIRI.

Fourth position was awarded to Motorola's Droid smartphone, carried by Verizon, powered by Google's Android operating system and selling 1m handsets in 74 days, aided by a $100m advertising budget.

McDonald's fruit smoothies – in fifth – were added to menus in July 2010, as part of its rapidly-expanding McCafe range.

"Sales from the smoothies launch well exceeded our expectations in both products are being purchased throughout the day," Jim Skinner, McDonald's ceo, said on the company's Q3 conference call.

The latest iteration of the iPod Nano - boasting what Apple termed "multi-touch" technology - claimed sixth place, ahead of Starbucks Via coffee.

"Via represents a broad and innovative coffee platform that generated about $135m in global sales for Starbucks in retail and CPG channels in its first year, making it a runaway product success by any objective measure," Howard Schultz, Starbucks' ceo, said last month.

Samsung's 3D TV set came eighth in the poll, and currently takes an 88% share of the fledgling sector in the US, after hitting store shelves in March.

The nappy category witnessed particularly intense competition this year, as Procter & Gamble rolled out Dry Max and Kimberly-Clark introduced Huggies Little Movers.

It was the latter of these brands which took ninth in the standings, having employed fashion shows, celebrity endorsements and social media to drive interest in its "jeans diapers."

"In the face of the Dry Max … to do our jeans-type renovation and really pick up a share point, I would say has been a big hit," Thomas Falk, Kimberly-Clark's ceo, said in late October.

Closing out Schneider Associates' list were KFC's Double Down sandwich and Kleenex single-use hand towels, another Kimberly-Clark product.

However, the study also revealed 45% of interviewees could not recall any launches from the period assessed, and 75% were unable to recollect hearing about an item within the top ten.

Data sourced from Schneider Associates; additional content by Warc staff