PepsiCo is extending its reach into the healthier snacks market with new baked crisps, backed by a £6m marketing campaign.
Rolling out now, Walkers Baked are made from potato flakes rather than potato slices, baked rather than fried, and have 70% less fat than regular Walkers crisps. The single 25g packs contain fewer than 100 calories and carry full front-of-pack GDA labelling.
The main target is men who want to take care of their health but who don't like the idea of diet lines.
Walkers' better-for-you portfolio already includes Lights, launched 20 years ago and focusing predominantly on women, and Potato Heads, which has amassed impressive sales since its arrival last year but is aimed at children.
Baked's launch flavours are the familiar trio of cheese & onion, ready salted and salt & vinegar, rather than the 'blokey' combinations of PepsiCo's Nobby's line-up and rival UBUK's McCoy's brand.
Jon Goldstone, Walkers vice president of marketing, said the aim was "to keep the target as wide as possible". He said the core audience was eating crisps but cutting back rather than going for healthier options and Baked would boost overall consumption.
The brand has been available in PepsiCo's US portfolio for a decade, with double-digit growth in the past five years, according to the company. It was trialled here three years ago with no great success but the company believes the timing is appropriate now as a result of concerns over obsesity.
Goldstone denied that increased diversification would damage the brand. "Consumers are getting their heads round different fat and salt levels and want more choice in better-for-you options," he said, adding that the company had made a huge commitment with a £15m investment in production lines.
He said that in research 90% of consumers said they were likely to buy baked products. "This was even higher than Potato Heads achieved and that brand is now worth £30m."
TV ads featuring Gary Lineker break next month.