NEW YORK: Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola were among the companies US shoppers regarded as having launched some of the most innovative new products of last year.

The annual Product of the Year Awards, which aim to recognise the most successful introductions in 14 categories, was based on a survey of 60,000 people conducted by TNS, the research firm.

Procter & Gamble took the honours in the haircare contest, for a "natural" version of Pantene Pro-V which promises to "make fragile hair strong against damage in just 14 days."

The Cincinnati-based firm also came out on top in the hair color competition for Nice 'n Easy Perfect 10, and, in the personal care sector, for Secret Clinical Strength Waterproof, an anti-perspirant targeted at athletes.

Moreover, Tide Stain Release, a high-end extension to its detergent brand, was named as the best introduction among laundry lines last year.

Bob McDonald, P&G's ceo, has recently argued that innovation will be integral to the organisation's future plans, where offerings such as the Swiffer have previously helped it drive up revenues.

"Our innovation program is happening all over the world. We're spending behind the innovation program to get the awareness and trial objectives we need to grow market share profitably," he said.

Coca-Cola, the soft drinks specialist, was pre-eminent in the beverage segment, for Sprite Green, which contains a zero-calorie natural sweetener, Truvia, which Coke developed in partnership with Cargill.

SC Johnson's Glade Sense & Spray, a motion-activated air freshener, and Pledge Multi-Surface spray took the corresponding positions in the household and home cleaning products divisions in turn.

The number of goods launched in the US food and beverage market making "economy claims" rose by 72%, according to figures published by Mintel.

Moser Roth, a chocolate range with six different variants, and which is produced by Aldi, the German discounter, made the biggest impact in the value area with shoppers, according to the poll by TNS.

Reckitt Benckiser's Resolve Deep Clean Powder was lauded in the carpet care sector, as was Nescafé Dolce Gusto, made by Nestlé, for coffee systems, and Colgate Wisp, a disposable toothbrush, in the oral care vote.

A separate study from TNS found that 41% of Americans are looking for new products which provide better value for money, while recommendation is also playing a more important role in shaping purchase behaviour.

Herb Sorensen, scientific advisor for global retail and shopper practice at TNS, said "shoppers are faced with a blizzard of choices in the store, and anything that helps them cut through the clutter is good for the shopper ... and good for the retailer and brand."

Colin Watts, chief innovation office for Walgreens, added "with consumers watching their wallets more closely and the increase in new products, today's brands and retailers are constantly looking for ways to help shoppers deal with 'aisle overload'."

"Successful companies are the ones who bring new product innovations that are based on what consumers need during these challenging economic times and consumers are rewarding them with their purchases."

Data sourced from Product of the Year; additional content by Warc staff