Another bonkers brand stretch: Tropicana Crunch?
The Tropicana team are at it again with what looks like a bonkers bit of brand stretching. They recently launched Tropicana Crunch, a cereal made to be consumed with orange juice. The launch was time to coincide with National Orange Juice Day in the United States on May 4. This follows last year’s launch of Tropicana toothpaste that I posted on here.
1.BRAND STRETCH ASSESSMENT
We can start by assessing Tropicana Crunch using the brand stretch assessor tool we use on the brandgym Academy short course on brand stretch and on projects.
Size of prize: based on the market opportunity, the added value of the concept and the product delivery
- Breakfast cereals is a big and steadily growing market: $36 billion in 2021 with a forecast CAGR of 3.7% (1).
- The concept does tap into an apparent habit of having cereal with orange juice. The Tropicana team say “15 million Americans” have tried this combination. However, that is only c. 5% of the US population, so a niche need. In addition, I can’t see any mention of why Tropicana Crunch is specially designed to go well with orange juice. The site simply states “honey almond clusters that are made to be spooned and sipped”.
- Competitive intensity is high, with leading brands like Kellogg’s and General Mills spending heavily.
- In terms of the product, Tropicana are clearly not cereal experts. I assume they are out-sourcing product design and manufacturing. And the social media reviews on Instagram I’ve found are negative to say the least (see below). Net, I have low confidence that the product will be great.
- SIZE OF PRIZE: small
Ability to win: this is where many bold brand extension attempts fall down. Even if the size of prize is attractive, do you have the capabilities to really deliver it and create a profitable, sustainable revenue stream?
- As mentioned, Tropicana has no capabilities in cereal manufacturing
- This is limited opportunity for scale economies and cost advantage, unless Pepsico is planning a range of cereals for its other drinks brands.
- It is unlikely that Tropicana will invest heavily in marketing to launch the product and then sustain it in market.
- ABILITY TO WIN: low to zero
So, as strategic stretch, Tropicana Crunch does indeed looks like a bad idea.
2.NOT A BRAND STRETCH AT ALL
Tropicana Crunch is, of course, not a serious strategic move at all. Rather, it is another Tropicana LET-OFF: a Limited Edition Tactical OFFer. The product wasn’t launched in major retail outlets. Instead, it used the same approach as Tropicana toothpaste: announcement on social media and then asking people to tag @tropicana on Instagram and Tik Tok. The intention was to be a bit crazy to provoke online ‘buzz’. “‘Whether they loved it or loathed it’, the brand says, fans are encouraged to describe their experience with Tropicana Crunch on Instagram and TikTok,” reported the Drum (2).
We use three key criteria for assessing the increasing number of LET-OFFs that brands are launching:
- REACH: how effective is the idea at creating “buzz” and social sharing to drive brand reach and in turn penetration, key to brand growth? (Score out of 4)
- REINFORCEMENT: how effective is the idea at reinforcing the brand’s core benefit? (Score out of 4)
- REJUVENATION: how effective is the idea at rejuvenating the brand by bringing freshness and popular cultural “currency” (Score out of 2)
TOTAL SCORE out of 10
3. EVALUATING TROPICANA CRUNCH AS A LET-OFF
So, how does Tropicana Crunch stack up using the criteria above, rather than as a true brand stretch?
REACH: The number of Tropicana Instagram page views/likes/comments (30,105/3,173/1,250) were in line with those for Tropicana Toothpaste (see below). This is not bad, but means reach was quite limited when you look at this as a % of the US population. As far as I can see, the idea didn’t break out into the mass media. It got some local Florida coverage, thanks to the link to orange growers in this state.
I suggest a limiting factor here is the relatively low cultural significance of the idea. I doubt National Orange Juice Day is a major event in the US calendar for most people. In contrast, Heinz Christmas Dinner Big Soup achieved huge reach as it tapped into a massive cultural moment in the UK. It also had a topical and newsworthy twist: worries about the availability of traditional Christmas lunch owing to supply chain and raw material availability issues.
My score: 1 out of 4 (but I’m happy to be proved wrong if Tropicana or their agency can share data with me!)
REINFORCEMENT: this is where this LET-OFF falls down in my book. The product itself does nothing to reinforce Tropicana juices core benefits of freshness and taste. Although at least it is a food product with a more obvious link to the brand than the toothpaste launch.
My score: 2 out of 4
REJUVENATION: I guess it does make Tropicana look like brand doing fun and wacky ideas. Although reactions to the product itself seems to be, at best, mixed. So the rejuvenation effect is far from obvious
My score: 1 out of 2
MY TOTAL SCORE: 4 out of 10
4. RETURN ON TALENT (ROT)
Based on the above, Tropicana Crunch will have limited impact on brand and business growth. Although I am open to being proved wrong if someone from the Tropicana marketing team or creative agency wants to share some data showing otherwise.
But on the other hand, not much marketing money was spent, apart from making a few hundred packs of cereal. And the brand got a bit of buzz. So, what’s not to like?
The issue with LET-OFFs is less to do with return on investment (ROI). Instead, the question is more to do with return on TALENT (ROT). A fair amount of time has been taken up with this marketing stunt to develop the mix (pack, comms, website, special media, PR etc.). And, if you agree with the evaluation above, the return is likely to be limited.
Net, full marks to the Tropicana team for creativity and having fun at work. However, I would recommend that a LET-OFF should work harder at driving reach, reinforcement and rejuvenation. Better examples of LET-OFFs I posted on recently include Mr Kipling Ice Cream and Heinz Christmas Dinner Big Soup.
You can explore brand stretch further in our brandgym Academy short course here. This short course is only £95+VAT, refundable if you on to do the full Mastering Brand Growth program.
2. Drum article