Snack Food and Wholesale Bakery was recently able to talk to Natalie Hagstrom, general manager, cookies, Ferrara, Chicago, about Keebler's branding and redesign.
Liz Parker: How has the branding has changed through the years?
Natalie Hagstrom: As a beloved brand for over 150 years, Keebler has constantly changed to meet consumer needs, and now at Ferrara, a related company of Ferrero Group, we have made strategic investments in Keebler’s product renovation to reinvigorate the iconic brand, and drive growth for our new cookie portfolio. Keebler has increased capital investments by 35 percent in marketing, 41 percent in shopper programs and we’ve tripled our ecomm marketing investment as well.
LP: Why was the most recent round of branding deemed necessary?
NH: The cookie category is an impulsive one—54 percent of purchases are not planned and taste is a top purchase driver, so our changes reflect this consumer behavior. Keebler has made improvements to the quality and freshness of its cookies, with a move to real ingredients, and new packaging design and technology.
As a part of the Keebler revitalization, we’ll also introduce a new brand promise, “Made with Magic, Loved by Families” and we will be rolling out a 360-marketing campaign in the next month. The campaign will be centered on the Real Ingredient Additions, the magic of Ernie & the Keebler elves, and the moments of togetherness that Keebler cookies create for modern day families. The campaign will feature a new TVC, digital, paid and PR support, always-on social storytelling and retail activations.
Less than one year under new ownership, Ferrara’s approach to reinvigorating the Keebler brand is reflected in all aspects of the business. On the Keebler business, we’ve activated deliberate channel growth and have put a distribution strategy in place. We have invested in people, products, packaging, manufacturing, customer partnerships and communication.
LP: How have the products themselves have changed (reformulation)?
NH: The renovation started with changes to:
- Chips Deluxe Original, which will now be made with natural vanilla and real chocolate
- Fudge Stripes, which will now be made with Real Keebler Fudge
- Sandies, which will now be made with real Madagascar vanilla
Our new packaging design features updated ingredient messaging, modern and impactful imagery that differentiates the product on the shelf, and optimizations that enhance resealability quality to keep the cookies fresh:
- Keebler Chips Deluxe, Fudge Stripes and Sandies will also be available in an on-the-go format, and variety packs to meet various consumer snacking behaviors.
LP: Why were the reformulation steps deemed necessary?
NH: We wanted to take the beloved, iconic Keebler brand and return it to growth through investments in products with quality ingredients, packaging, both the actual structure and the graphics refresh, and consumer communication that reaches both new and existing consumers in a more relevant and meaningful way.
LP: How have the products have been selling during COVID-19?
NH: As Americans continue to find comfort in snack food as they spend time at home, the Keebler Cookies portfolio have seen a 55 percent increase in sales since early March.
LP: What are the future of the brands, and are any new initiatives planned?
NH: Our mission is to drive growth across our entire new cookie portfolio, starting with the Keebler brand renovation and bringing that to life for our customers. Stay tuned for other new initiatives!