Heinz has been spending big on advertising after a poor 2011, and its Beanz TV ad - a cute reworking of Jack and the Beanstalk in which the magic bean is replaced by a tin of, er, Beanz - was ranked best of 2012 by Nielsen in our Top Products issue in December. The ad hasn’t (yet) boosted sales greatly but, with the help of the launch of on-trend new flavours and Five Beanz, Heinz has outsold the competition and consolidated its dominance of the market.
Galaxy enjoyed a solid 2012, thanks to the continued success of sharing bags. In terms of innovation the undoubted highlight was the launch of Galaxy Orange Bubbles, with an on-pack promotion to Win a Million Moments in a £13m prize giveaway. That’s not all: the Mars brand broke into the RTD coffee category with the launch of two Galaxy chocolate mocha lattes in June. And Galaxy resurrected Audrey Hepburn as the star of a new ad using CGI technology
Müller will have to fight its corner harder if it wants to regain the title of Britain’s bestselling yoghurt from Danone. In November the company announced a revamp for Corner, which it says will arrest the decline in value and volume (down 15.9%). Key to the revamp is a reformulation, making Corner thicker and creamier, and new packaging across the whole brand, with six-packs featuring photographs of the ingredients inside.
Like its rival Whiskas, Felix has posted decent results in a flat market with excellent pouch sales - the Felix pouch was top-selling petcare product, with sales increasing over 10% last year - even though its canned food sales fell off a cliff. Cat treats and drinks are also growing by double digits, and Felix’s new Goody Bags, launched in April, have already captured a 7.2% share by offering three different, healthy flavours in a resealable pouch.
Smoothies may have given Innocent its fame, but juices have been making its fortune of late. The brand’s sales have rocketed by more than a third in the past 12 months - a performance driven by Innocent’s carafe-packaged fruit juice range, which has just entered its second year on shelf.
The rapid growth surged last January with the launch of a range of blended juices that now accounts for 16% of Innocent’s juice sales and was expanded this year with three new flavours. The juice lines have also driven a big hike in consumer penetration for the brand - up from around 12% before the juice launch to 30% now, says Innocent.
While juices have been flowing, smoothies have hit a rough patch, however. “What we’re seeing with smoothies is that sales have declined by about 7%,” says commercial director Dave Pickup. “The main reason is promotional phasing - at the back end of 2011 we were running half-price promotions on smoothies, which we didn’t replicate at the back end of 2012. We made a decision to make the next big push on our smoothie business part of our healthy January campaign.”
The campaign - part of a planned £14m brand-wide marketing spend - included a half-price promotion and ads targeted at the January detox.
Meanwhile Innocent’s food business, which had been relatively quiet in 2012, has also got off to a strong start this year with the announcement that a range of noodle meals inspired by Asian street food will come to market in April, followed by new Veg Pot recipes later in the year.
Still top dog in the sector, Pedigree has relaunched its tinned and dry range with a new, heavily promoted, four-a-day health formula. Tinned sales are up as a result. But despite the health-focused campaign including Wet Nose Week, overall sales have declined, with treats - worth more than tinned - down 2.5%, despite some very cute ads. They’ll be wanting to reverse that trend next year, and hoping the movement to own brand falters.
For a brand with such a loyal following, a radical reformulation was always likely to put a few noses out of joint. But the consumer backlash surrounding ‘new’ Flora took even Unilever by surprise. Now that the dust has settled, the impact of the reformulation on the brand can be fully assessed. A slight decrease in value sales suggests that although the new recipe still has its sceptics, the majority of Flora’s customer base has remained faithful.
The concept behind Kit Kat’s Choose a Chunky Champion campaign was hardly original, but the results were sufficiently strong to convince Nestlé to revisit the idea at the start of 2013. More than 600,000 votes were cast on Kit Kat’s Facebook page and 11 million bars sold as consumers were asked to choose which flavour out of Orange, White Choc, Double Choc and the eventual winner, Peanut Butter, should become a permanent member of the range.
Wrigley Extra’s oral health positioning - based on the proposition that consumers should chew gum after eating or drinking - continues to resonate with consumers. Sales have also been boosted by new lines such as a strawberry version and £1 handy boxes. But the coming year will be all about the bottle-pack. The company has invested heavily in manufacturing facilities and marketing as it targets bottled gum at office workers and car users.
P&G splashed out a cool £10m on marketing Ariel for the Olympics. It seems to have paid off, in spite of a dramatic decline in in-store promotions over the course of the year.
The performance, backed up with ads that billed Ariel as the Proud Keeper of our Country’s Colours, is a significant return to form for the brand, which endured a 5.4% decline in sales in the previous year.
Ariel was even able to turn sporting tragedy into triumph on the marketing front, after brand ambassador and sprinter Jeanette Kwakye suffered a knee injury. Never one to miss a trick, P&G’s marketeers turned Kwakye’s misfortune to their advantage by convincing her to talk of her mother’s support for her, post-injury, for its wider Proud Sponsor of Mums campaign around the Olympics.
It wasn’t all down to marketing, however. “Ariel’s success continues to be driven by innovation across our formats and new creativity on our marketing platforms,” says Ian Morley, fabric and homecare commercial director at P&G UK.
And Ariel started 2013 on the front foot with news of an industry first: a combined powder and liquid stain-removing booster tablet for the brand, again backed up with TV, digital and an in-store marketing campaign.
“Following the success of the brand in P&G’s Olympic sponsorship this summer, we’ve launched the My Ariel campaign,”adds Morley. “This draws out both the functional benefit and the emotional connection people feel for the brand.”
See the complete list of Britain’s Biggest Grocery Brands.