Quaker show the perils of new brand creation

Quaker porridge oats are the latest brand to launch a kid-specific brand. Rather than simply launching a kids version of their
successful So Simple quick microwave range, they've created a whole new
brand. And I wonder is this is a smart branding strategy.

The product idea is pretty sound: smooth porridge you can microwave in 90 seconds, with no lumpy bits. (though the traditionalist in me says why the hell do we have to make everything from juice to porridge smooth so kids will eat it).

The new brand is a cringe-worthy play on words, and is called Paw Ridge. Get it? Not porridge, Paw Ridge. Ow. The pack suggests a place called Paw Ridge with wild animal characters.

Picture 6 Picture 3

Creating a new brand like this really should be a last resort. It costs a lot of money and time. It risks fragmenting marketing budgets. And it distracts attention away from the core brand. It should only be used when the stretch from the core brand is so big that the new product would not be credible without a new brand.

In this case the stretch in product terms is small. Its just smoother. The tricky question is emotional stretch. Clearly Quaker have the ambition to create a kid-specific brand. And the problem with the Quaker brand is that its a bit stuffy and serious, as you can see above. In fact, the kids stretch would have been much easier to do if Quaker had kept the old Oatsosimple design, when this sub-range had its own identity, distinctive from Quaker's classic porridge.

Picture 4 

I do still think the decision to push the new brand button was a mistake here. I doubt that Quaker have the long-term budget to sustain a new kids brand. Its one thing to launch it, but a whole other thing to keep it alive over time. I think there are two better branding approaches for kids ranges.

The first is a kids version of the main brand, that innocent do very well. We still have the innocent identity and brand name, but with a kids twist. They also use a "no bits" product. And they do a nice job of having loads of kids promotions and on-pack fun, such as colouring and story-writing competitions. This works if you are up for really investing time and creativity in developing a kid-specific marketing campaign.

Picture 5
The second approach is to focus on the product benefit, without a kid-specific identity. A good example is Hovis Best of Both, which "smuggles in" wholegrain goodness in a white bread. It was launched as a good way to get kids who don't like brown bread to get the same wholegrain benefits. The big advantage here is that you keep the coherence of the brand, and avoid fragmentation. Also, you don't limit the appeal of the product benefit by putting it in a "kids ghetto". This might have been the way for Quaker to go. Create a "Super Smooth" version.

Picture 7

In conclusion, we should think very carefully before launching a new brand, and only do so if the size of the prize is big, we have budget for long-term investment and the core brand cannot stretch.

My guess is that Paw Ridge will bite the dust within 18 months.