What do you think about the Baked! Lays' makeover? ~ Brand Mix

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What do you think about the Baked! Lays' makeover?

Baked! Photos: Twig and Thistle

Baked! Lays is celebrating its 15th year with a packaging design makeover. We could debate the merits of the design but that's been done already by those who are more on the ball than I am (the new design was announced in March).

What I'm more interested in is what you think about the product architecture. Specifically, the fact that there's no more dispute: It's the Baked! line of products and Lay's, Cheetos and the rest now play the role of, essentially, ingredient brands. Take a look at the before and after for Doritos to see what I mean.

Now intuitively that seems all wrong to me. Even if this new hierarchy works from a design perspective and resolves the previous mess, should a generic name that's already used by many of its competitors and can easily be adopted by store brands take prime position away from the iconic brands like Lays and Doritos? Surely not. But, the more I think about it, the more sense it makes.

The advantage of this new hierarchy is that it allows Frito Lay to put more distance between the Baked! snacks range and other Frito Lay products. This allows it reposition the range, move it further into healthy snack territory and focus on women as the primary consumer target. With market and legislative trends putting pressure on regular snacks, the development and growth of healthier products is a strategic imperative for the company. This explains why it has backed up the repositioning with a new marketing campaign: Only in a Woman's World which connects Baked! to the other healthy snacks in the portfolio (Flat Earth and Smartfood). (Whether this marketing is effective or not is a matter of another debate with comments I've read both on FL's own Snack Chat site and elsewhere mainly critical.)

But I'm still left with the vague feeling that something's wrong with this new architecture. What do you think? Thumbs up or down? What do you think of this U.S. solution vs. the solution that Frito Lay came up with in the UK (where it markets under the Walkers brand it acquired back in the 90s)?

Photo: Brand New


Matthew Daniels said...

at least the packaging looks different from the main line of Frito-lay products.

But do you think that "Backed!" is really confusing anyone in the aisle? The big cheetos logo surely doesn't make anyone think they are buying another product.

Chris Wilson said...

I wonder if you could run into a psychological problem with the new architecture. Is it possible that we need an unbaked bag to make the baked look more appealing and taste better? Obviously this would depend on consumer preference. Maybe the baked bag would make the unbaked bag more appealing. Maybe they need each other to verify their existence.

What do you think? Am I in left field on this one?

Denise Lee Yohn said...

great post, martin!

i would take your questions one step further and ask whether or not it makes sense for frito-lay to sell baked versions of cheetos and doritos in the first place.

it seems to me when folks buy cheetos and doritos, they don't really care about health/nutrition; conversely, when people want a healthy snack, they're not wanting cheetos or doritos -- so why doesn't frito-lay just leave cheetos and doritos alone and develop a new line/brand of snacks with a more healthful positioning?!

oh yeah, they did that! -- as you point out, they have introduced Flat Earth. so it seems like frito-lay is really just proliferating skus and diluting brand equity by offering baked! cheetos and doritos regardless of the brand architecture and packaging design they employ.

Russell said...

The precedence of the adjective/ descriptor over the endorsing brand's mark could be problematic from at least two standpoints.

The tack on both Lay's existing & makeover packaging reminds me somewhat of Arnell's failed Tropicana rebrand where the "Tropicana" name was turned on it's side, the wordmark reduced and de-characterized, "100%" took visual predominance, and sales promptly fell by something like 20%. All parent brand character and equity summarily destroyed. No one could find Tropicana on the shelf, and the new packaging communicated "test tube beaker" orange juice.


And, the predominant generic descriptor "Baked!" seems unsustainable in making any lasting connections with customers as you imply. It attenuates/ dilutes brand recognition...

On to the architecture aspect...

At first glance, the "Baked!" appears to delineate Frito-Lay's architecture into a nice, neat, clean channel. But is it really?

To me, the problem appears to indicate that Frito-Lay is over-extending its channels. And if that is the case, then the "Baked!" solution is problematic for a second reason: it creates a fuzzy channel that is a little bit Frito-Lay and a little bit generic. I think a better solution would be to brand under a completely distinct and separate brand channel.

Russell said...

According to Hornall Anderson on the Dieline, "The packages have just recently hit the store shelves and are performing well..."


Just thinking also, what a huge challenge it would be to unite the disparate baked snack line... in a channel other than what they have done with "Baked!". If it were only potato chips, naturally the task would be easier. Add "Cheetos" and other sub-brands & parent brand (simply "Lays") into the mix, and voilà the mess, Martin, you refer to.

The new product architecture does accomplish the repositioning task. And then also... maybe the brand connections remain in tact because once a bag is grabbed from the shelf, the consumer gets to spend some time with the bag before emptying it. Recognition strengthened.

Conversely, the differentiation problem remains when challenger brands make a move. A big enough move to displace FL? Now I even wonder about this...

... and I haven't even gotten to the "Walker's" issue yet... good one, Martin.

Martin Bishop said...

Thanks to all for some great comments. I was on the fence when I posted and, one week later and after reading all your comments, I'm still there. This architecture solves lots of the problems with the earlier version and opens up new targeting opportunities as well but, as Denise points out, the new design has reinforced what was a problem all along: A Baked! version of Cheetos (especially) does not make a lot of sense.

Cynthia Murnane said...

Great line of questioning Martin. And I was ready with my comment a week ago...and then I stopped. I thought maybe I just wasn't receptive to this new idea of Frito Lay and I waited until I saw the product in the store. And even after that I still go with my first reaction. My gut says that even though this packaging is different, that different in and of itself it not a strong enough position for a rework of this type. To me-the colors are soft and feminine. (which is what was intended) but the product has lost it's way. The hierarchy is now completely changed from supporting the original brands(our favorites-Cheetos, Doritos etc) with a co-brand designation, a "lighter" version-Baked, to a scenario where the "lighter" Baked is the product and the originals are now subordinate. Aren't we all (women and men) really wanting the original brand but just looking for a healthier option. I wonder whether Frito Lay will see sales decline? I happened to see this at a Target where the packaging looks very similar to the Archer Farms identity elements.
As a woman, I tend to think this packaging is a mistake.

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