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Campbells reinvents itself for Millennials

August 21, 2012

Campbells is one of America’s most iconic food brands and one immortalized by Andy Warhol in the 60s, but fast forward almost 50 years and the brand is not as revered as it once was, for today’s generation of Millennials, Campbells might be something you grew up with, but in a “food truck” world has limited relevance to you today.

Financially, this disconnect is a big issue for the company whose stock value in the past 12 months has been in decline, while its competitors have been growing.

It appears Campbells has been making strides to try and address the issue and make a connection to this challenging audience with a new product line.

Of course, they went out and did their homework- trying to understand the relationship Millennials had with food took them across the US to cities like; Austin, New York, San Francisco, Des Moines and St Louis and they even spent some time in London, the global culinary capital!

It appears three key insights from this research help inform the creation of a new product line.

1.Food Matters

Food is more on the radar of Millennials; despite having less money to spend- they appreciate it and are prepared to pay more if the product is right.

 2. They’re Global Samplers

Given the diversity of the generation, the rise of the Internet and the widespread availability of different cuisines, they want something more interesting than a can of condensed tomato soup. They flavor demands are much more sophisticated than prior generations.  They have an experimental nature and want to sample, remix and experiment with new foods and tastes. It’s the remix culture at work.

3. Fresh is important

Their perception of what constitutes good food is different; fresh is now an important attribute, which makes selling cans and canned products tough.

Campbells response to the demands of Millennials is Go Soup- which is the first line coming from the “Go” platform which could be extended to include noodles and other delivery platforms.

The Go Soup line is sold in pouches instead of cans and comes in an exotic range of flavors like Coconut Curry, Moroccan Chicken, and Gouda Cheese and Red Pepper, the packaging design is more exciting than the typical soup can and has a scanable barcode that leads to Campbell’s website.

It appears Campbells have listened to the research and created the expected response to the insights they generated. Sales success will hinge of whether Millennial consumers feel the product delivers value (at three times the cost of a can of soup) and if it really can find a place in their repertoire given that soup isn’t currently today.

There’s also a big communication challenge because Campbells is really creating a new category- pouched soup, which is designed to appear fresher, but it will be interesting to see if it’s perceived that way and if Millennial consumers understand what it really is.

Campbells has done their homework, but I wonder if the solution is radical enough to convince a cynical and increasingly demanding Millennial audience that they are relevant again and that it’s not just simply play-by-play marketing effort that does little to engage?

What’s seen as breakthrough innovation internally for Campbells, might not be perceived that way by consumers.

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