Magazine article Marketing

UB Flies the US Flag

Magazine article Marketing

UB Flies the US Flag

Article excerpt

United Biscuits (UB) imports an American mega-brand to the UK from this week - the latest salvo in its battle royal with PepsiCo for control of the European snack industry.

UB has ploughed [british pounds]8m into rebranding the potato chip O'Boisies as Roysters for UK consumption. And it doesn't rule out an extension across Europe.

The move smacks of the aggression of the dominant player refusing to cave in to a new pretender. Through subsidiary KP the quintessentially British UB still takes the biggest bite out of European snack sales - but

PepsiCo is snapping at its heels. PepsiCo has already swallowed up the Smiths and Walkers brands, launched a big-spending broadside of US names (Chee-tos, Ruffles) into Europe, and just three weeks ago teamed with General Mills to push their joint snacks portfolio across the Continent (Marketing, May 14).

Now the battle is joined again in the UK. PepsiCo has suffered a bloody nose with Chee-tos (see story, page 5). The jury is still out on Ruffles, plagued by U-turns on ad strategy. And both companies are scrabbling for profits as the recession takes the wind out of the market's phenomenal growth. Only the best-targeted brands will survive.

KP has thrown its hat firmly into the ring of Americana with its launch strategy for Roysters. O'Boisies is already made by UB's American snacks subsidiary Keebler, and just over [british pounds]4m has been invested in production lines here to make it.

KP talks of a "continuing consumer love affair" with "all things American". A [british pounds]2.3m national TV campaign breaks on Independence Day, July 4. Packs are red, white and blue and flavours Texan Chilli, T-Bone Steak and Cheese 'n' Chives - supposedly "reflect America at its most appealing". KP marketing manager Peter Smith says the US is seen here as "the land of snacking".

Positioning, as PepsiCo found to its peril with Chee-tos, is vital in a snack market which has already been comprehensively segmented. KP claims Roysters is the first specifically "adult" mainstream snack; Chee-tos targeted children and Frisps - another KP import from across the Atlantic, also made by Keebler -is aimed at the family.

"We would class it as adult speciality," says Smith. "People are prepared to pay a premium for something that's tailored to them."

But are they? Thanks to the recession - which scuppered Cheetos - savoury snack sales overall rose just 7.2% last year to [british pound]503m, compared to 26% per annum growth in the boomtime late 80s. …

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