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.
Trends & Developments
Trends & Developments
Budget: part of a £3.2m spend
Manufacturer: procter & gamble
Manufacturer: Kerry foods