2 (3) Walkers Crisps
: £724.4m +7.6%
Launch: 1948

Walkers, Britain’s biggest crisps brand, outsold Britain’s biggest bread brand, Warburtons, for the first time last year -a watershed moment for British grocery.

But that doesn’t mean we’ve forgone the bread and morphed into a nation of greasyfingered sat fat fiends. Not entirely, anyway. Healthier snacks have driven much of the growth, says Sebastian Micozzi, Walkers’ head of marketing. “Baked Stars drove incremental sales across multipacks,” he says. A source of fibre, with 70% less fat than standard crisps, “they fulfil parents’ desire for ‘better-for-you’ family snacks in fun formats that taste good”.

Not all the NPD has been quite so virtuous, however. In July, Walkers launched Deep Ridged in a bid to muscle in on rival McCoy’s territory and appeal primarily to a decidedly less health-conscious demographic: men aged between 25 and 44. The range, which Walkers claims was the category’s most successful launch last year, was recently boosted by a new Chilli beef variant and is currently being advertised on TV.

Hefty advertising spend has been key to Walkers’ success over the past year. Spend on advertising space for the year stood at £12.9m [Nielsen], up 27% on 2011, as brand owner PepsiCo backed up the Baked Stars launch with TV ads and a partnership with parenting website Netmums. It supported the core brand with the What’s That Flavour? campaign, which invited consumers to guess a number of mystery crisp flavours.

“What’s That Flavour? performed exceptionally well,” says Micozzi. “The multimillion- pound marketing investment behind the mystery flavour competition included a social media campaign, a competition to win three £50k prizes and a celebrity-led TV advert, which was effective in engaging with consumers and encouraging guesses.”

Now Walkers is building on its pledge to use only British spuds by adopting a range of locally sourced flavour ingredients, backed up with what Micozzi calls “impactful new packaging”.

Will the claim that the cheese in Cheese & Onion comes from Somerset actually sell more crisps? Walkers seems to think so.