Attack of the clones

Two interesting examples of brands being attacked by clones in the chilled section of UK supermarkets. Some good insights on how (or how not) to take on an established leader in a growing category.

Tropicana Smoothies vs. Innocent

Tropicana tried this before, but they’re back for a 2nd go at taking their share of the UK smoothie market. Back in 2002 they tried and failed.

And you can see why parent company Pepsi are doing this. Its a fast growing market, and innocent have 70% of the market. The weak second place brand is PJ’s, also owned by Pepsi, which will be taken "downmarket" with prices slashed by 30% and the exotic flavours removed.  So, Pepsi are going for a "2 pronged" portfolio to take on innocent.

In Tropicana’s favour, the brand is strong in premium chilled juice, so has some good product equity. They have a pretty good "sausage": the strawberry and banana smoothie we tried was lovely. I would say about as good as innocent.

BUT, they have a few big challenges. First, they lack the emotional sizzle of the innocent brand that has been built up over 10 years. Blink and the Tropicana Smoothie pack could be a carton of juice. It has nothing distinctive. Second, their products taste good, but they have no real product plus that they are bringing. They seem to have copied innocent’s products. And last but definitely not least, they are pitched at the same price-point: £2.99 for a 1l tetra pack.

Net, not a great value proposition. Where’s the added value? It comes down to a straight brand choice between the trust of Tropicana, and the lovely little story that is innocent.

My guess? Tropicana will steal about a 10-15% share, taking mainly from PJ’s and own label. PJ’s will die, as being taken downmarket means it will be too close to own label. Innocent will come out of it in pretty good shape.

What do you think?

Heinz chilled soup vs. New Covent Garden

Next up is Heinz trying to muscle in on the chilled soup market. This is dominated by New Covent Garden and own label. I like New Covent Garden, and have used them for 10 years or so.

Heinz have launched "Farmers Market" soups.

In their favour, they have a more accessible price point than New Covent Garden: £1.49 for a 600g carton vs. £1.99

BUT, there are issues here again. First, the Farmers’ Market story is a bit thin… they’ve been forced to put on the pack that the ingredients "come from the UK or abroad". Mmm. So, not really like a Farmers Market at all then. Second, Heinz have launched the new concept in chilled, but also in ambient cans. This was probably needed to make the business plan work, as ambient cans in Heinz’s core business. But it dilutes the fresh, Farmers Market idea doesn’t it? It begs the question that the soup might be a Sunny Delight-style ambient soup stuck in the chiller, rather than a truly fresh one. Third, Heinz have nowhere near the range of Covent Garden, who have a larger core range, and limited edition seasonal concepts.

Net, feels like a cheaper copy of New Covent Garden. The big question is whether 50p a carton is enough to tempt me… but then if I want a cheaper option I already have lots of choices…they’re called Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.

My guess? Heinz will make a very limited impact in chilled soup. They won’t get the scale to make the business model work. It’ll be too hard. And in 2 years it will be gone. The ambient product will work OK, and help revive this core business for Heinz. And perhaps Heinz will have bought New Covent Garden.

What do you think?