Special K Water: one for the extension graveyard?!

In my presentation on brand stretching, one of the bits that always gets a big laugh is the "over-crowded extension graveyard". People think the dead extensions are made up, but they are all real. Products like Levi’s suits, Cosmopolitan yoghurts and Bic perfume.

Well, at first sight, Special K’s new K2O bottled water is a product you would expect to see joining them soon. I read about it on Business Week’s Brand New Day blog. This feels like a "brand ego trip", where a brand forgets what made them famous (in this case delicious, healthy and "permissible" breakfast food) and stretch into markets where they have little or no added value. The water market is over-crowded with brands that have a lot more credibility and status than Special-K. Why would people switch from these to one from a cereal brand?

There is one thing that can save them. Its the "joker card" that allows you to break all the rules of branding. Its a killer product. Special K K20 has 5g of protein and is designed to help curb cravings for those naughty sugary snacks that tempt dieters off the the straight and narrow. The other good thing is that Kellogg’s are placing it in the diet and nutrition sections of grocery and drug stores, not the over-crowded bottle water section. So, if people get past the initial trial barrier that happens when a brand stretches into an unusual market, and then really love the product, it might just work. For what its worth, Food Processing magazine think so, as its in their Favourite 8 New Products of 2006.

Its a killer product that has given Knorr (famous for dry soups and bouillon cubes) permission to successfully launch chilled Vie Shots and Hero (famous for jam) to  create a $20million Fruit2Day business in Holland.

So, what do you think? Hit or miss?

5-minute workout: if you are working on a brand extension, ask what real added value is it bringing to the market. Does it have a real "plus" versus what is there? And if its a big stretch from where the brand is today, do you have a "killer product" to help you win doubtful consumers over?