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Image: Windows 7 store display
Christof Stache  /  AP
With its new touch-screen feature and improved file access, Microsoft's Windows 7 software was among the memorable product launches of 2010.
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updated 12/12/2010 1:28:27 PM ET 2010-12-12T18:28:27

In today's mass production age, so many new products hit the shelves that most go unnoticed.

A few, however, stick out. And if your brand is Apple, as a new report shows, that most certainly helps.

BuzzSchneider Associates, a Boston-based public relations and market communications firm, compiles an annual list of the year's most memorable new product launches. This year Apple came in first with the introduction of its iPad tablet computer. Forty-two percent of consumers named it as one of the products they most remembered out of the flurry of new launches that came between October 2009 and September 2010.

Tech brands overall had a heavy presence, with new introductions, such as Microsoft's Windows 7 (No. 2), Motorola's Droid smartphone release (No. 4) and Samsung's 3-D TV (No. 8) among the most recalled new offerings on consumers' minds this year.

(Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal.)

Forbes.com slideshow: The year's most memorable new products

Why, though, does this even matter? Because, sales aside, a product launch that's effortlessly recalled by the public proves that marketers — and their brands — have staying power. Plus, with about 250,000 new products launched globally each year, creating one that stands out can be pretty tough. Consider, too, that the typical failure rate of new product launches can be anywhere in the 85% to 95% range, says Lynn Dornblaser, an analyst at market research firm Mintel who tracks new products.

Rolling out a product that appeals to an audience that uses social media to chat about new things can help make it a hit. That's what Kimberly-Clark did when it rolled out Huggies Little Movers Jeans (No. 9) this year. This limited-edition offering is a diaper with a denim-like style. Mommy bloggers loved them.

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For some marketers, thumbing a nose at conventional wisdom can work. KFC did this by ripping the bun off its fat-soaked Double Down sandwich (tied for No. 10). That's two pieces of chicken — fried or grilled — serving as the one and only cover between an indulgent bacon, cheese and secret sauce center combo.

Food companies, on the other hand, tapped into recession-weary consumers' hunger for quick, cheap eats. Among the hits: McDonald's Real Fruit Smoothies (No. 5) and Mars' Pretzel M&Ms (No. 3). The latter was a simple spin on an idea — put a pretzel inside a M&M — but it satisfied Americans' craving for a sweet, simple treat in an economic downturn.

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In its survey of consumers for this report, Schneider Associates, along with research partners SymphonyIRI Group and Sentient Decision Science, found that 75% of participants were unable to recall a new product launch from among those on this year's top 10 list. Forty-five percent, meanwhile, couldn't name a single one at all. Those results are per unaided recall studies, meaning experiments conducted with very little or no prompting from researchers.

When it comes to determining which brands jump to the forefront, it's usually the companies that "people look for, the ones that they are familiar with," says Patrick Richardson, Schneider Associates' integrated marketing director.

Forbes.com: Marketplaces around the globe

Forbes.com: The world's most valuable brands

© 2012 Forbes.com

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