Putting lipstick on a pig may be easier than making old brands new.But that never stops consumer product makers from trying to put new spins on old brands. Ironically, they often succeed because of name familiarity. Procter & Gamble wants to bring Pepto-Bismol into the 21st century. Ditto for its Oral-B dental floss. Kraft wants to bring Planters out of the Stone Age and reinvent its dated Wheat Thins.
None of this is easy. It requires targeted research and an ultra-nuanced ability to stay true to the brand’s core — even as it changes.
“The worst thing is changing the brand too much and trying too hard to be cool,” says brand guru Laura Ries. How four brands seek cool:
– Going portable. The 111-year-old Pepto-Bismol is trapped in the image of a bulky, bottle filled with the thick, pink liquid. Sure, 40 per cent of consumers keep that bottle at home, but only 6percent use it in a year, says Jeff Jarrett, associate marketing director for global digestive wellness.
Solution: Go portable. And change the rationale. Pepto is touting Pepto-Bismol To-Go, a pack of 12 cherry-flavored, chewable tablets in a pink, plastic cylinder no larger than a pack of Life Savers. The brand no longer wants you to think of Pepto as just a sick-at-home cure-all for stomach aches, but as an on-the-go product you should cart to parties.
– Tweaking the product. Oral-B has been around since 1920, but in 2012, it’s trying to make its floss hip. Enter the Oral-B Glide 3D White Floss Pick. These are tiny, plastic floss sticks with tooth whitening. “We should have filled that need long ago,” says Marchoe Northern, associate marketing director for North America oral care. Some 25 per cent of consumers view whitening as important.
– Hyping good nutrition. At 106 years old, Planters is finally getting hip to why folks eat nuts. It’s dropping the cocktail party chatter and latching onto nutritional snacks. Its new Planters NUT-rition Men’s Health Recommended Mix is made with just peanuts, almonds and pistachios. “A healthy snack marketed to men can make the brand more relevant,” says Scott Marcus, senior brand manager.
– Reinventing itself. Since 1947, Wheat Thins have been crackers. Kraft executives now want you to think of them as salty snacks. “That’s our true future,” says Jim Low, senior director of marketing for crackers. It’s even adding youth-targeted flavours: Spicy Buffalo and Zesty Salsa.
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