A single-serve cake designed to be eaten with a spoon has been highlighted as a ‘breakthrough’ product launch in a new study.

Created by McVitie’s owner Pladis, the O’lala Sufle is one of 11 examples of NPD flagged up by research firm Nielsen in its latest annual Breakthrough Innovation Report.

Drawn from an initial list of 9,900 products, all 11 had sales of at least £7.5m in the first year of launch (£5m for launches in Eastern Europe) and maintained at least 90% of that figure in the second year.

Nielsen said package design had emerged as a key theme among successful NPD.

Launched in Turkey, the O’lala Sufle is packaged in a pot and comes with a spoon.

Without the spoon “it would be perceived as just another cake,” Nihal Gül, marketing director of biscuits and cakes at Pladis Turkey, told Nielsen.

The spoon also brought unexpected benefits, added Gül. “After launch, we realised the product made a great addition to packed school lunches. We hadn’t thought of this initially, but the spoon adds a lot to the convenience of the product.”

Pladis used a distinctive purple colour scheme and “mouth-watering” image of a soufflé overflowing with liquid chocolate because “we learned packaging can make or break perceptions and it was instrumental for the success of the launch,” added Gül.

Package design is the “dark horse of the marketing world”, suggested report co-author Ben Schubert.

“It receives little attention compared to other marketing disciplines, and its impact tends to be vastly underestimated,” he added. “Back-to-basics marketing such as how essential it is to stand out at the shelf has become slightly lost due to marketers’ increasing focus on where to advertise in a media-saturated world.

Marketers should pay more attention to the 60% of consumer decision-making that happens at the shelf, according to the study, which found 56% of European consumers said in-store discovery was one of their top information sources for new products, compared to 45% for TV ads.

Nielsen’s examples of breakthrough innovation