Heinz: Innovating the core to make a leader even stronger

Guest blog from David Nichols, brandgym's Head of Invention

Heinz has an enviable position in the £332m UK baked beans category; 64% share – a leader brand if ever there was one.  The category itself is growing around 3% a year, so what can they do to drive growth further?  In my experience this task is just as hard for marketing directors as turning around a brand declining in a soft market.  Heinz, however, seems to be getting it right.

Watching the guy from Ocado bring in bag after bag after bag of our weekly shopping this week, I noticed something unusual in the ‘fridge items’ bag: a Heinz Beans Fridge Pack. 

Heinz beans fridgepack
This re-closable plastic 1kg pack was launched in November 2010.  They are giving it a big £3m above the line launch and expect first year sales in the region of £10m (source: Marketing Week)

 Why is this a good idea?

 1.   Addresses a real need

-       The TVC exploits a real insight, no doubt drawn from actually looking in people’s fridges.  The current cans aren’t always the right portion size, so what do you do with the left over beans?  Wastage is clearly a big issue (i.e. just throwing the unused beans away), or people have to go out of their way to find other containers to store the leftovers – hence the creative idea for the TVC (click below to watch in the blog).

2.   Opens up new occasions

-       Sometimes opening a tin of beans is too much hassle for a quick snack.  Convenience has moved on, there are so many quicker easier things to snatch when you are hungry that the easy-open tin has become a drawback.

-       Now the Fridge Pack allows people to just grab a spoonful quickly & simply, reducing ‘time to plate’ and hence opening up the myriad of smaller snacking occasions.

What have Heinz done well when innovating as a clear brand leader?

1.   Find genuinely new needs to address

-        Even though you know more about your category than anyone else on the planet.  Even though you have data on everything your research partners could measure.  There have to be unmet needs out there – you just need to dig deep enough to find them. 

-        Heinz team clearly used their eyes and ears to really listen to consumers and uncover needs that have hitherto gone unaddressed.

2.   Increase mental availability

-        By putting a Heinz Beans pack in the fridge, they have massively increased their ‘in kitchen visibility’.  Now when mums and teens (and all inbetween) stare into the fridge looking for inspiration or a snack, Heinz Beans are in with a good shout.

Heinz Fridge Pack in Fridge
Increase physical availability

-       It’s hard to think that any product could get wider distribution than Heinz Beans in the UK, but it is still mostly restricted to the ambient shelf.  The successful Snack Pots extension appears in the chiller, but in no doubt fewer outlets than the cans.  The 1kg Fridge Pack brings the core offer into fridges everywhere.  More chilled facings means more physical availability and hence more opportunities to be bought.

In Summary

Even when you are the undisputed brand leader with a dominant share in the category, you can still create growth. Challenge yourselves to listen harder to consumers, use different techniques to see new things in your category.  Explore the full mix for opportunities to add value, not just the product.