The Knorr brand has had a hard time of late, as it is associated with dry packet soup and sauces, out of line with the trends to fresher food.
However, investment in core product innovation, linked with a clever creative campaign, looks to be paying off with improved brand and business results.
The Knorr team have shown that you can revamp pretty much any product. They've done it on the bouillon cube, those dry little cubes you use to add flavour to your cooking. And after years of lagging behind Oxo in this market, the launch of "Stock pots" has helped Knorr take leadership.
Here's a few things they've done well.
1. Investment in R&D
The Knorr team have worked hard with R&D to come up with technology that stores bouillon in jelly, as if you'd made your own fresh stock and put it in the fridge. The great thing about this product is that it looks and feels really different, and so provokes re-evaluation of the product. You don't need to shout "fresher, more natural". The product talks for itself.
2. Sizzle for the sausage/stock
The UK team have pulled of a master-stroke by getting star chef Marco Pierre White to be the brand spokesperson. A couple of years ago I cut out an article in which Marco talked about Knorr stock cubes being his "secret ingredient" for many years. So the nice thing is that this is not just paying someone to front the brand. Marco is a true product fan it seems, so the whole thing is more authentic.
The new campaign adds some well needed emotional sizzle to the brand, but in a way that builds from and reinforces the product "sausage".
3. Nifty naming
I love the name Stock Pots. It has connotations of cooking and kitchens. And avoids the trap of trying to create a complicated sub-brand, such as Knorr Supreme Stock, that needs explanation. Instead, we have a product that "does what it says on the tin (pot)".
4. Global scale, local touch
The good news for costs is that the global Knorr team have pulled off the almost impossible task of getting a global innovation to market, with the resulting benefits in terms of cost economies and getting critical mass. This is a million times harder than you may think. The team had to get the buy-in from local businesses from the UK, China, France and Spain to make this happen. Now, just think about the differences in food culture between these countries!
What the team have also done well is to adpat the mix to the market. Its fascinating to look at the different TV ads produced for the UK, with in-your-face Marco, and France, with more traditional foody values. This is smart. The big economies are not in TV ad production, but rather in the product, packaging and technology. Rather than spend years trying to get all the local teams to make one advert, better to have a local touch applied by local teams.