Campbell’s Rewrites Its Recipe for Success

Few products are more iconic and nostalgia-evoking than the red-and-white can of Campbell’s chicken soup. How many American consumers associate that brand with cozy occasions, whether the comfort it brought on a sick day home from school or just simply as a quick and easy way to warm up on a rainy day?

But in what seems like an act of sacrilege to some, the Campbell’s Soup Company recently announced a change to the product formulation. The New York Times reported in November that “…the new version of its chicken noodle soup contains 20 ingredients, most of which can be found in the average home kitchen, compared with 30 in its previous incarnation…” Campbell’s CEO Denise M. Morrison said, “We’re closing the gap between the kitchen and our plants.”

As marketers, we give Campbell’s props. This is quite a bold move, messing around with a beloved brand. And one certainly not made haphazardly. With purchase and consumption of canned soup on the decline, and consumers seeking healthier alternatives to heavily processed foods (check out our Healthy whitepaper), Campbell’s clearly recognized the white space and emerging differentiation opportunities. Canny marketers (see what we did there?) turn to Attitude & Usage studies to uncover if in fact consumer behaviors are changing, and if so, then why and how.   What’s important when buying chicken soup? How do consumers decide what to buy or who do they purchase for? What do they use most often and why?

Campbell’s appears to have done just that, looking at current products and adjacent categories to grow share. According to the New York Times article, “…the company is banishing ingredients that today’s consumers don’t like and using advertising and social media to have a conversation with consumers about what it is doing. Acquisitions have also given Campbell toeholds in new markets and brought new ideas to the organization.”

In fact, just at the time of this blog post’s writing, the company announced that it was starting a venture capital fund to invest in food startups, hinting at opportunities inspired by farm-to-table, fresh food prep/delivery and healthy eating trends disrupting the big food industry. This comes shortly after the company announced that it was reversing its opposition to the labeling of GMO ingredients.

The risk of course is making sure that any innovation stays true to the brand consumers have grown to love. In our recent exploration of what Authenticity means to consumers, respondents told us that they are more likely to be loyal to companies they believe are authentic. Words and images associated with this conveyed ideas like “hand crafted” “simple” “pure” “natural” “trustworthy”.  Simplifying their soup is in line with these consumer expectations, and Campbell’s seems to be on sure footing. Taking the time to really understand consumer attitudes and usage can not only point to where a brand can go in familiar territory, but also how far it can push into new directions.

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  • Functional and emotional consumer associations with Premium
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Are Consumers Growing Sour on Sugar and Sweet on Stevia?

Fat. Carbs. High Fructose Corn Syrup. And now sugar. All nutritional villains in the consumers’ eyes.  In response to this mounting concern, food manufacturers and grocers are taking steps to decrease the amount of sugar in their products.

Some soda manufacturers, having already replaced high fructose corn syrup with regular sugar in some brands, are now vowing to reduce overall sugar content in others. Some are experimenting with sugar and stevia combinations. Supermarket chain Wegman’s is taking steps to reduce added sugar in its store brand products including yogurts, sauces and bakery items. Most recently, General Mills announced it was cutting sugar content by reformulating its Yoplait line of presweetened yogurts.

Why the scramble? Are consumers that concerned about their sugar intake? And what are the acceptable sweetener alternatives? According to our latest Buzzpoll it seems that consumers do care about what goes into their body – 65% specifically mentioned their concern about their sugar intake. Nine out of 10 said they read nutrition labels, with over half reporting that it’s to learn about sugar content.  The majority are willing to use artificial sweeteners or to try natural alternatives to sugar. Over a third are concerned about artificial sweeteners in their beverages. And a large majority said they’d have a positive opinion of a brand that used natural sweeteners rather than an artificial one.

To learn more about how consumers use nutritional info to make food decisions, the sugar substitutes they’re sweet on, and the ones that worry them, click here to see our infographic, Simple & Sweeteners.

Stay tuned for another new infographic coming out soon where we’ll show you findings from our latest Millennials and Nutrition study. HINT: sugar is mentioned there, too!

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Ahh Choo! Time to Focus on the Flu

Can you believe flu season still isn’t over? In fact a new strain has emerged in these early days of spring. At BuzzBack we were wondering just how do consumers protect themselves from these nasty bugs? Why do some people get vaccinated while others avoid flu shots like the plague? So, we decided to ask them! Check out our new infographic below to see what we found out in our latest BuzzPoll focusing on the flu.

 

 

 

flu infographic

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Dining Trends in the Age of Millennials

Are Millennials behind the demise of fast food as we know it? Or to borrow from Mark Twain, are the reports of McDonald’s death greatly exaggerated? If you’ve been reading the financial news, McDonald’s seems to be in trouble – the theories abound as to why. Some point an accusatory finger at Millennials.

We have already written about the challenges of consumer product companies and fast casual establishments in capturing the taste buds of the coveted consumer group born between 1981-2000: Millennials. Their habits and preferences are shaking things up across multiple categories. Gen Y seems to increasingly favour companies like Chipotle and Panera, as well as Shake Shack and Five Guys. What’s notable is that all of these are part of the “fast casual” dining trend.

So what’s the link between Millennials and this trend? We recently conducted a study of Millennials and their attitudes about nutrition, and we are presenting at the Food & Drink Innovation Network conference in London.  Our study finds that taste, quality and experience matter tremendously to the Gen Y consumer – all hallmarks of the “fast casual”.

To Millennials, overall nutrition is important, and they want fast food to be healthier and better quality. While they are active and conscientious grocery shoppers, they do allot a significant portion of their budget to eating out. That means there’s significant opportunity for restaurant marketers to capture share of wallet.

To receive an executive brief of our Millennials & Nutrition findings, click here. And watch this space for the webinar on the subject in March.

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Flu Vaccine: Hype or Hope?

When I walk around New York in the winter time, it feels like I run across a drugstore on every other block with a large ad in the window for flu vaccinations. The ads offer a quick, walk-in vaccination covered by most health insurance policies, which sounds like a pretty good deal.

Not everyone is persuaded by those ads, however. In our upcoming BuzzPoll infographic on flu vaccination, more than half of respondents (54%) have no set plans to get a flu vaccine this year, with the primary reason for non-vaccination being skepticism over how effective flu vaccines are. Unfortunately, some of that doubt is particularly warranted this flu season, as the CDC has reported that flu vaccines are only 23% effective this year, compared to a typical flu prevention rate of 60-65%. The main influenza A (H3N2) strain circulating this year has mutated enough that about 68% of those viruses are genetically different from the flu viruses used in this year’s vaccines.

Still, even a less effective vaccine offers some level of protection, especially considering that the flu vaccine protects against several different strains of flu. So a flu shot now could also protect you from some of the different strains that emerge throughout the flu season. Half of our BuzzPoll respondents who do plan to get vaccinated this season cite doctor recommendation as a reason, and the CDC recommends annual vaccination for everyone 6 months and up (with only a few rare exceptions).

So if you’re among the more than half of Americans who haven’t been vaccinated yet, maybe you’ll want to take a second look the next time you pass by an ad for the flu vaccine. As for me? Walking by all those drugstores drove the message home – I got my flu shot a few days ago.

For more information on our flu vaccination findings, get in touch with us below.

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The Next Big Player in the Health Care Industry

Just the other day, I saw an intriguing teaser about pet insurance on AMA TV. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), this year pet owners are expected to spend $58.5 Billion on their pets and of that, $15.25 billion will go towards veterinary care. Due to the increase in people who treat their pets as part of the family and an upsurge in procedures and cost, pet insurance is positioned to be the next big player in the health care industry. It’s already starting to be offered as an employee benefit at many companies.

However, with the rise in popularity comes new regulations. Proposed California legislation which will regulate pet insurance is currently making headlines. The bill is up for a vote in the Senate. It will be the first of its kind. No other state has imposed regulations for pet insurance.

All of this reminded me of a study we conducted early last year with Hive, our online forum. We brought together a community of pet owners to explore all aspects of the relationships between pets and their human caretakers.  We discussed everything from the types of relationships they have, sleep habits, new product wish lists, holiday shopping behaviors, and even pet insurance. What we found is that there was a lot of hesitancy around acquiring pet insurance, largely driven by costs. Due to the economic climate, some pet owners made mention of barely being able to afford their own health insurance, much less being able to afford insurance for their pets.

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We found that with pet insurance being widely seen as a luxury vs. a necessity, those who offer insurance should first and foremost focus on value communications. Breaking costs down in easy to understand increments (i.e. for only $15 dollars a month, for only $100 dollars a year) might increase value perceptions. Offering tiered and/or customizable levels of coverage may broaden appeal.

Additionally, insurance communications should play-up the emotional bond that exists between a pet owner and their pet. In doing so, the takeaway is not ‘I can’t afford it’, it becomes ‘how can I NOT afford it?’

I must admit I used to be one of the naysayers when it came to pet insurance, but not long after we conducted this study I joined the ranks of those insuring their pets; after all, my pets are just two, very loved, extensions of my family.  So, for all you animal lovers out there, how do you feel about pet insurance?

To request a copy of the findings from our Exploring Pet Ownership Study, click here.

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Gluten-Free Trend: Fading Fast or Built to Last?

In our sneak peek back in February, we asked: is going against the grain an enduring health trend, or will another development in health and nutrition soon take its place? According to our study this food fad is here to stay. And a trip through the grocery store confirms that it’s not going to slow down any time soon.

Since the FDA released their official definition for gluten-free back in August, the gluten free category  has grown exponentially – taking up more and more shelf space in grocery stores, and recently expanding into the restaurant industry. In fact, both Chick-fil-A and Olive Garden recently announced they have changed up their recipes in hopes of catering to the growing ranks of grain-free diners. And supply chain cooperative, SpenDifference recently released findings from their Chain Restaurant Menu Price Tracking Survey that found 55% of the chains surveyed said they currently serve gluten-free food, with 52% planning to add to their gluten-free menu and 7% planning to start.*

Who are these gluten-free consumers and what makes them tick? To learn more, we recently conducted our own gluten-free study that included 100 gluten-free purchasers to find out the why, what, and where behind these consumers. According to our findings, restaurants that are extending their menus to include gluten-free food and beverage options – such as Starbucks, Panera, and Applebee’s – are moving in the right direction, as 8 in 10 agree that eating gluten-free is harder when eating out, yet only 1/3 of these gluten-free purchasers know of a restaurant, bakery, and/or café that offers gluten-free items. To see what else we found, take a look at our gluten-free infographic below.

2014.04 BuzzBack Gluten-Free Infographic

 

 

 

Have an idea for a BuzzPoll? Let us know! Or for more information about our Gluten-Free BuzzPoll, click here.

 * SpenDifference, Chain Restaurant Menu Price Tracking Survey, January 2014, pgs. 2,5 
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Ready for Flavored Wines?

Have you heard the news? Flavored wine seems to be the latest trend to come out of France and the French are loving it. The Los Angeles Times was shocked to discover that a number of French winemakers recently introduced flavored wines like fruit-flavored rosé (grapefruit, passionfruit, mandarin) and some other unique flavors like Red Lollipop (Rouge Sucette), which is red wine infused with cola.

Millennials seem to be the target demographic since regular consumption of wine in France has declined over the last few decades as younger generations are reaching for other alcoholic beverages. We recently conducted an alcoholic beverages study here in the U.S. and we found that Millennials are really keen on trying new drinks, 6 times or more a year.

The French winemakers might be on to something because French Millennials are not the only ones who like flavored beverages, they also appeal to U.S. Millennials as 60% like Flavored Malt Beverages and 52% like Wine Coolers. So why not flavored wines? Especially as over 80% of Millennials enjoy drinking wine.

So, are you ready for flavored wines?

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Gluten-Free: Consumer Perceptions Sneak Peek

In case you missed it, The New York Times ran a great article just last week that covered the great gluten-free craze taking companies, marketers and consumers by storm. What started out as a need-based diet for a small percentage of consumers who have Celiac Disease or are sensitive to gluten, has since catapulted into a category expected to generate over $15 billion in 2016. As consumer perceptions that a gluten-free diet is a healthy lifestyle choice continue to drive this category boom, there is no telling when this upsurge will slow down.

At BuzzBack, we were also interested in consumer perceptions surrounding a gluten-free diet. We will be unveiling new findings from our U.S. and U.K. gluten-free BuzzPoll soon, but we couldn’t let you leave without giving you a little taste. In our U.S. study, top gluten-free products ever purchased are breads, pastas, cereals, cookies & crackers and seasoned snack foods (i.e. chips).  Top unaided brands mentioned are Glutino and Udi’s – mentioned in the article as being purchased by Boulder Brands in 2011 and 2012 – and proving to be a smart business move, since “sales of Udi’s and Glutino were up 50 percent last year.”

So what do you think: is going against the grain a sustainable health trend, or will another development in health and nutrition soon take its place?

Have an idea for a BuzzPoll? Let us know!

 

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