Manufacturers realise that appealing to kids and teens is key to the category’s future

It may be a veteran category, but canned food manufacturers are taking a youthful approach to attracting new consumers. The industry agrees the key to the future of the category is to make canned food more relevant to younger consumers. Manufacturers are planning a raft of promotions to drive interest among children and teenage consumers.
In September, Premier Foods will transfer the instant mash icons, the Smash Martians, onto branded canned pasta to increase its appeal to children, teenagers and young adults.
Character licensing has proved a useful marketing tool for Premier Foods’ canned pasta range. Its HP Character Pasta range generates annual sales in excess of £6.4m[ACNielsen MAT to February 20, 2004], and last year’s HP Lord of the Rings four-pack baked beans promotion resulted in sales increases of 20% in key retailers.
The company’s acquisition of the Crosse & Blackwell brand in 2002 gave it another outlet into the youth market in the form of the Crosse & Blackwell Hunger Breaks range.
This summer, Premier will run an on-pack Euro 2004 promotion on Hunger Breaks, offering consumers the chance to win one of three ‘Footie Pubs for Your
Garden’, including a widescreen TV and cold beer. “This activity forms part of a £10m marketing spend across the Crosse & Blackwell brand portfolio in 2004,” explains Ian York, Premier Foods group sales director.
Another big spender is Heinz, which invested £3m behind its beans, pasta and meals business last year, with sponsorship of the Dinner Doctors TV programme.
This year it is also revisiting its ‘Win A House’ on-pack promotion, which it claims resulted in double-digit growth last year.
Meanwhile, John West is investing £2.5m on TV and press advertising, direct marketing and instore sampling to promote the health benefits, quality and convenience of its ambient fish products.
Continuing the healthier eating theme, following its sponsorship of GMTV’s Inch Loss Island in January, Crosse & Blackwell’s Waistline is sponsoring a follow-up, Inch Loss Beach.