It was hard to ignore the arrival of KP's Hula Hoops Shoks in the bagged snacks category last April. For a start, the foil packs were cube-shaped and came in bright green, pink or orange, while the flavours gloried in the names Full-on Onion, Bigtime Saucy and Totally Cheesy.
Second, the newcomer's £4m launch campaign achieved the double-edged sword of grocery marketing ­ controversy. Advertising watchdogs condemned the campaign, based on the idea of electric eels in the water supply, as too scary for children and KP was forced to move it to post-watershed slots.
The move does not seem to have affected the brand's awareness rating among its target audience. According to KP, more than 75% of consumers between the ages of 12 and 24 were aware of the brand during the campaign.
Supermarket buyers' reactions were generally favourable too, with one describing Shoks as "a good impulse offering".
Penetration into impulse was something the company said it was looking to achieve, because more than 60% of standard Hula Hoops had been bought in multipacks.
However, sales have not been as strong as expected. KP had predicted first-year sales would top £10m, but data from Information Resources shows sales value had reached just over £6m by the end of January 2003. Nevertheless, KP can glean comfort from the fact that two thirds of these were from impulse outlets.