Competition among premium products is rising as consumers choose healthier brands - so what are the chances of success for new and relaunching variants?

Last year&'s Grocer Top Products Survey caused quite a stir in the premium sector by revealing that Sensations had fallen 17.8% in value.
Parent company PepsiCo relaunched the brand, still the third-largest in the crisps, nuts and snacks category - earlier this year, but Phil Norminton, sales strategy director, admits that it had been &"impacted by where we chose to place promotional monies - such as the spend on Potato Heads&" and admits the company needed to concentrate more on Sensations.
&"Three years into launch, Sensations saw its sales slow down as a result of ­an influx of &'me too&' products and increased competition in the premium snacks market, which became cluttered and confusing for our consumers,&"he says.
Norminton adds that better packaging and flavours will transform Sensations&' fortunes. &"Now we infuse the oils with real ingredients for more authentic flavours and introduced more premium packaging for greater on-shelf stand-out and appeal. Our new ­promotional programme ­includes ­advertising featuring Charlotte Church and conveys new positioning of &'Real ­Ingredients, Pure ­Indulgence&'.&"
The relaunch has certainly excited Budgens trading manager for snacks Rowan Winter: &"The new Sensations packaging looks great and will help the brand&'s sales. However, Sensations aren&'t hand-cooked like Tyrrells and Burts, so these brands have an element of superiority.&"
Norminton acknowledges that entry of smaller brands into the premium sector proves that Sensations will have a fight on its hands, something that Spencer Playle, Sainsbury crisps and snacks buyer, also ­believes. He says: &"Walkers has felt the strain and has found genuine growth hard to come by with smaller players such as Kettle ­excelling in the growing premium sector.
UBUK has come out fighting and has stepped up its activity in the highly competitive ­premium arena.
Earlier this year it attempted to pep up the tortilla sector with Specials Tortillas, hailed as the first ridged tortilla. Customer marketing director Mark Sugden says: &"Premium is a category that had started to fade and decline - it has not had much new news.&"
The Hula Hoops range has been extended with Hula Hoops Ridges, described as a &'more premium and grown-up offering&'.
And last month it also unveiled its ­­­newly revamped Phileas Fogg brand, which had become something of a sleeping giant in snacks, to add further serious competition to ­Walkers.
The brand now consists of seven variants, including three tortillas in what UBUK says are more authentic flavours, and will be ­targeted at the super-premium end of the category. It has already achieved a ­listing in the new Harrods 102 convenience store.
Peter Wilson, Kettle Foods marketing ­director, says that consumers are starting to vote with their wallets in the premium sector. He says the brand&'s rate of sale is up by 30% over the past year as more consumers switch to its ­products.
&"The growing ­tendency for people to say &'I want to try something that looks a bit better for me&' may be one of the reasons for this increase. There&'s a lot of noise and ­inauthentic claims - people want ­something more honest,&" he says.

Health
Trends & Developments
McCoy's Specials
Budget: £3.5m
Manufacturer: UBUK
Walkers sensations
Budget: Undisclosed
Manufacturer: Pepsico
Nobby's nuts
Budget: Undisclosed
Manufacturer: Pepsico
Trends & Developments
Pringles
Budget: part of a £3.2m spend
Manufacturer: procter & gamble
fridge raiders
Budget: undisclosed
Manufacturer: Kerry foods
quaker snack-a-jacks
Budget: £3m
Manufacturer: pepsico
Healthy options
gain popularity
Health has emerged as the single biggest issue facing the snacks category over the past couple of years and debate continues to grow in ­intensity on the back of media coverage and government hysteria about the wellness of the nation.There's a seemingly endless stream of TV programmes such as You Are What You Eat, Jamie's School Dinners and Turn Back Your Body Clock, which Budgens trading manager for snacks Rowan Winter says "almost terrify consumers into taking a really critical look at what they eat and changing their lifestyles".So it is not surprising that snacks manufacturers across the board are responding by reducing salt and fat levels and finding ways of ­producing what they describe as 'healthier options'.Mark Sugden, UBUK's customer marketing director, says: "As manufacturers become more responsible, people indulge in healthier ways. We have conducted research across our portfolio to explore ways of reducing levels of fat and changing methods of frying and baking snacks. "We are pushing to exceed the government's guidelines and focusing heavily on ­promoting no artificial colours or flavours."The company's Hula Hoops are now 50% lower in saturated fat and 10% lower in sodium. It is pushing the new formulation with pack labelling, building on last year's launch of its lower sodium version of Hula Hoops - Shake2Salt. The company says it is also reassuring consumers by including a statement on pack declaring 'no hydrogenated vegetable oils'.Alice Cadman, UBUK's head of strategic projects, adds: "We know that consumers want snacks that taste great and a wider choice of healthier options. UBUK has never been more focused on health and nutrition."We are strongly ­committed to giving our consumers a wide choice of healthier snacks and to introducing positive changes to our products."PepsiCo has been giving a high profile to reduced fat levels in its ­Walkers brand in recent months, and Phil Norminton, PepsiCo sales strategy director, says this strategy is likely to continue. "Increasingly, health is the lens through which consumers are looking at products," he says. "It's having an impact on how manufacturers develop business - we need to pal up with the trade to develop responsibly. We have to be part of the solution."But plenty of other manufacturers don't believe enough is being done to educate consumers about the health message.Peter Wilson, marketing director at Kettle Foods, for example, says much action taken by manufacturers is
?Intersnack's current on-pack promotion for the Pom-Bear childrens' snack is 'Let's get bouncing!' Consumers can win a limited edition Pom-Bear trampoline every day to the end of June. Exclusively designed for Pom-Bear, the 12-foot diameter trampolines come complete with their own safety nets. According to Intersnack, the promotion is designed to encourage more kids to exercise as part of a healthy diet.?Terra 50% Reduced Fat Natural Potato Chips are being imported into the UK by Empire Food Brokers. The premium Terra 50% range boasts low levels of fat content produced by using Vacuum Frying Technology. The patented frying process cooks the potatoes in a vacuum environment at 125C, a lower temperature than standard crisps, which the company says results in significantly less fat absorption in the product.The reduced fat crisps are the first to be sold in the UK using this production process, according to the company.?Procter & Gamble launched its Dream Team 2006 on-pack offer this spring across its Pringles brand. At the heart of the campaign is a competition featuring special on-pack artwork. One lucky winner plus a friend will have the unique opportunity to meet and even play a game of football with the 11 members of the Pringles Dream Team 2006, which includes international players such as Steven Gerrard, Roberto Carlos and Freddie Ljungberg. Pringles has also come up with one for the ladies with their 'Win a Day in the Life of a Footballer's Wife' promotion specifically targeted at the neglected female consumer during the football period.
UBUK's Get the Triple Edge TV campaign for McCoy's Specials Tortillas parodies male razor blade adverts. It features a typical British bloke on a couch enjoying a snack to a voiceover description of 'advanced tortilla technology'. A split screen and special effects demonstrate the product's 'triple-action', challenging consumers to 'Feel, hear and taste the difference'.
Diva Charlotte Church has become Gary Lineker's leading lady in the latest TV adverts for Walkers Sensations. Set in the 1930s on a Malaysian balcony, the advert shows the singer putting Lineker in his place as she discovers the product's decadent taste. It is timed to coincide with the relaunch of the Sensations brand, including the addition of new flavours.
Noddy Holder is the hero of PepsiCo's recently launched brand of nuts and crisps Nobby's. The ads feature the former Slade frontman shouting through a megaphone, urging people to nibble Nobby's nuts - and not to get the brand's name confused with his own - as well standing on a box out of arms' reach of a crowd of hungry people trying to grab the snacks.
?UBUK is investing £1.5m to support the relaunch and reformulation of its Mini Cheddars range. Mini Cheddars Original will now contain 30% less saturated fat; 10% less sodium; no MSG; and no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. All other Mini Cheddars flavours and the Mini Cheddars Crinkly's range will also be reduced in saturated fat by 30% and 40% respectively.New packaging has been designed to communicate the nutritional benefits and 'same great taste' message to consumers. As part of the spend to support the brand, there will be a major national poster campaign.?Monkhill Confectionery has launched a new flavour of popcorn under its Butterkist brand. Honey Nut, combining popcorn and peanuts covered in creamy honey toffee, will be supported on pack by cartoon characters The Simpsons, following a deal with Twentieth Century Fox.The company is promising more new product development later this year, backed by major marketing activity. ?Crazy Jack has recently developed an organic range of fruity snacks for people looking for a healthier option to crisps. Called Jack's Snacks, the range features California raisins & cashews; super fruit & nuts; super fruit & seeds; and California raisins, pecan & ginger, plus a variety pack of the whole range. Paul Moore, marketing manager for Crazy Jack Organic, says: "The market for organic products is growing but is not particularly well catered for in snacking. Customer feedback indicates that there is a lot of trust in the Crazy Jack name and having the words California raisins on the bag adds brand value.
Pringles is tapping into World Cup fever currently sweeping the nation with a campaign featuring some of the world's greatest footballers, including Roberto Carlos and Steven Gerrard. The ads shows the stars playing 'keepy-uppy' with a Pringles tube instead of a ball and promote the on-pack 'win and play with the dream team' promotion.
The TV advert for Mattessons Fridge Raiders meat products shows a man at a bus stop eating the product unaware that the mouths of members of the public, including an elderly woman, are being contorted to show vampire-like fangs. Some young children found the advertisement too scary, however, and it is now only shown after 7.30pm.
Quaker is showing its 'surprisingly light' side to its recently launched 10% fat popcorn Snack-a-Jacks product with a new advert that broke last month targeting 16 to 34-year-old women. The ad shows a woman effortlessly lifting up a parked van with one hand to retrieve a dropped lipstick. A national radio campaign supports the creative.