Crunch time

Walkers Do us a Flavour campaign has already achieved a very high profile, generating debate among consumers, initially about potential flavours and then about which one should win, and heavyweight advertising has helped to turn each of the flavours into recognisable characters.

Now Walkers has used these characters in cash and carry depots to help energise retailers and educate them about how to make the most of the campaign. Scott Snell, business unit director at Pepsico, says Walkers has a long history of supporting the cash and carry sector and the independent retailers who make up their customers. He says: “The independent trade is a primary route to market. Nothing is more important than getting trade through the cash and carry channel.” A recent example he cites was the retro re-launch of Monster Munch in the impulse channel last autumn. The core target of the re-launch was 18-35 year old men, one of the primary groups of shoppers in impulse stores. Walkers provided tailored boxes for good stand-out and selling units and the campaign was a big success, says Snell, with retro Monster Munch beefy outselling cheese and onion.

Walkers Crisps also has a track record of launching new flavours, and Snell says the thinking behind the latest campaign was: “We’ve had a go, let the public have a say. Let them try and a get a flavour on the list.” He says it took more than two years for the project to reach fruition and when it launched in August 2008 it was the biggest on-pack activity Walkers had ever carried out, but the company was still surprised by the overwhelming response. “We expected 250,000 responses but we received 1.2 million. It captured the imagination of the consumer. Everyone was talking about it and everyone had an opinion. It was also the best execution we have had in years. We were getting great support from cash and carries and retailers right through the supply chain to the consumer.”

One of the keys, he says, is giving wholesalers and retailers the tools to deliver a high rate of sale, and in store that means stacker units and clip strips. The clip strips are cards which have eight bags of crisps attached to sticky strips, and can be suspended anywhere in the store from a hook. To make it as easy as possible for retailers Walkers has introduced special cases of clip strips pre-merchandised so all the retailer has to do is hang them up in their store. Each case contains three flavours with two clip strips of each, enabling retailers to cover all six flavours in the Do us a Flavour promotion with just two cases, instead of having to buy six cases each containing 24 packs of one flavour. “This means there is a better rate of sale with less financial commitment from the retailer,” he says.

The roadshow was a further step to create excitement around the promotion in depot, and to work with Walkers trade partners to help engage with their customers in a fun way, says Snell. “It’s all about engaging with retailers and educating them to produce a further ripple effect following on from the launch and the adverts,” he adds. With limited time restricting the number of cash and carries that could be visited, Walkers chose depots to give it a wide geographic spread and high footfall calling at: Batleys, West Bromwich; Booker Port Dundas in Glasgow; BA Cash amp; Carry in Cardiff; and Bestway’s Park Royal depot in London. The tour was rounded off with an appearance at the Convenience Retailing Show at the NEC in Birmingham.

At each of the participating depots all the characters seen in the adverts have appeared, creating quite a stir among customers. There were special displays of the products and POS, sampling, and customers were invited to nominate their favourite flavour with one from each depot winning £100 cash and £400 worth of stock.

Paul Rabone, depot manager of Batleys West Bromwich, the first depot visited by the roadshow, says: “It was a great success. We did a lot of tele-selling in the run-up and A-boards advertising it, and we had a 20% uplift in sales of the products compared with the launch week. I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. We’ve had individual characters at the depot before but not a whole team like that.

“Everyone fell in love with the squirrel and wanted to take her home. Customers were having their pictures taken with them and ever since they have been asking whether they are coming back.

“There was a lot of sampling too. Although retailers were selling them, a lot of them hadn’t actually tasted them. It was something different, good fun, it got the message across, and the bottom line was the sales uplift.”

At the Booker depot in Glasgow, retailer Rizwan Afzal of Flames All in One, said: “Customers have been really interested in Do us a Flavour because it is something a bit different.

“They come in and try the flavours and it gets people talking. I think other big companies ought to have a look at this and see whether they can come up something new to generate interest from our customers.”

Snell commented: “The response has been fantastic. Depots are getting second purchases and we have already had to ramp up forecasts for our manufacturing plants to keep up with demand.”

 

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=== Do us a Flavour campaign ===

The ‘Do us a Flavour’ campaign launched on 11th July 2008, and invited consumers to nominate a new flavour for Walkers Crisps. Entries closed on the 10th October 2008

The winning packs were launched on the 9th January 2009. They are:

l Fish amp; Chips –

Jane Hallam, Sheffield;

l Onion Bhaji –

Carole Wood, Durham;

l Chilli amp; Chocolate –

Catherine Veitch, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire;

l Crispy Duck amp; Hoi Sin –

Victoria Howard, Northwich, Cheshire;

l Builder’s Breakfast –

Emma Rushin, Belper,

Derbyshire;

l Cajun Squirrel –

Martyn Wright, Hednesford,

Staffordshire.

 

The flavours will be supported by seven TV adverts. One to support the launch and then ones to support each of the individual flavours.

The winner will be announced on May 2 and will receive 1% of net revenue sales each month for the duration of the period that their flavour is on sale. If sales reach that of BBQ flavour the winner will receive £57,000 a year.

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