The Brand Challenge: Reviving Heinz Tomato Ketchup

The second article in our Brand Challenge series, from KHWS, looks at Heinz Tomato Ketchup; there are two forces at play that have led to a 13.2% drop in sales in the last year.
Firstly, younger customers are trying more exotic flavoured sauces and condiments. Rather than ketchup, they are smothering their burgers and dipping their fries in chilli chutneys or an artisan sriracha.
The second challenge is the ever-present threat of people shopping for price and buying own label. In a nutshell, Heinz Tomato Ketchup isn’t trendy and it costs more.
By plotting a brand on the Purchase Quadrant, you can understand the main reason why they are bought now and could be bought in the future.
There are four dominant modes of behaviour that influence what we buy which are habitual shopping, copying someone else’s shopping behaviour, following expert opinion or undertaking considered research. These modes make up the four quadrants.

Please click on image to enlarge

Please click on image to enlarge

These modes of shopping are dependent on four factors; whether we are thinking independently, being influenced socially, thinking fast and shopping instinctively or thinking slow and deliberating over what we buy. These four factors make up the axis on the Purchase Quadrant.
Where is Heinz Tomato Ketchup now?
The brand currently sits in the top left corner of the Purchase Quadrant. It is a long-established brand that is bought habitually. The problem comes in the shopping aisle, where the threat of own-label or exotic sauces causes people to quickly switch allegiance.
Where should Heinz Tomato Ketchup be in the future?
In the short term, Heinz needs to move from a habitual purchase towards the popularity quadrant.

Please click on image to enlarge

This will allow it to reassert the brand’s market leadership. While people know and love Heinz Tomato Ketchup, it needs to stay relevant and connect with younger shoppers. Subsequently, the brand will want to return to the left-hand corner and become an unquestioned, habitual purchase for the long term (chart 2).
How does Heinz harness its popularity to increase sales?
The two main assets the brand has are heritage and quality. Heinz has consistently created great-tasting Tomato Ketchup since it was launched in the UK in 1886. While Heinz has introduced a 50% less sugar and salt variant, to cater for dietary concerns, and a Jalapeno Chilli version, in a bid to win back spice-loving shoppers, it’s the core values of heritage and quality that will help it stand out from the pack.
Heinz can leverage its heritage to a younger generation who have grown up eating its Tomato Ketchup. It can tap into childhood nostalgia, years before anyone had heard of piri piri chicken. By finding and sharing people’s childhood stories of eating Tomato Ketchup, marketing can create social proof that will get people to think about and buy a brand they take for granted. By executing this idea throughout the path to purchase, the brand can win back a generation.
To tackle own labels, Heinz Tomato Ketchup needs to frame its price to communicate its premium quality and cement the brand as an essential purchase within weekly shopping budgets. This could be done by focusing on the cost of one dollop of ketchup e.g. for a few pence you can turn a good burger into a great burger.
In doing so you are retaining the emotion of the brand, without having to resort to money-off deals. This could be communicated on-pack to trigger purchases from price-conscious shoppers. Heinz could support marketing with customer reviews that further communicate just how popular the brand is and why it will always be a good-value household favourite.
By using the strengths of the brand to tackle its commercial challenges head-on, Heinz Tomato Ketchup can turn around its fortunes. Framing its heritage and quality for a new generation of consumers, it can start growing sales again.

Jesse Basset is head of planning at brand commerce agency KHWS

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