What’s With all the Food Brand Mash-ups?

The Swedish Fish Oreo. Hungry? Confused? Revolted? All three? Perhaps that’s the point. So what’s driving our appetite for “new food experiences”? Like, even the crazy ones?

Dan Sills

Associate Director at C Space

Dan Sills produces C Space’s customer experience podcast, Outside In, which The Huffington Post called one of “The 7 Best Business Podcasts You Should Be Listening To” and Entrepreneur included in a list of “Best Podcasts for Entrepreneurs.” When he’s not locked in an edit suite, Dan talks at Story Slams and was a 2016 grandSLAM finalist for cult storytelling circle The Moth.

The Swedish Fish Oreo.

Hungry? Confused? Revolted? All three? Perhaps that’s the point.

Oreo has found great success in mixing things up with other brands and flavor combos, giving us everything from the aforementioned Swedish Fish Oreo to, most recently, an all-Oreo McCafe menu at McDonald’s Hong Kong.

Swedish Fish and Oreo’s unholy matrimony is just one example of the recent surge in food brand mash-ups. In a recent article for Food Dive, C Space food and beverage industry expert – and all around great guy – Alan Moskowitz shared his insightful perspective on what’s up with these sometimes quirky, sometimes delicious, and – if we’re going to be honest – sometimes, um, interesting concoctions.

“Consumers are the winners,” Alan declared. Food brands are joining forces to create “fun, flavorful, sometimes novelty items, and also high-quality products that meet our constant need for new food experiences,” he said.

So what’s driving our appetite for “new food experiences”? Like, even the crazy ones?

Mash-ups “make us feel like we are getting something familiar, but in a fun new way,” Alan said. “And while the holy grail is a combination that really delivers something great – like the Doritos Crunchy Taco – the novelty of trying new things is often enough to drive short-term sales for a brand.”

Of course, food brands are in it to win it, too. “These partnerships are often provocative and get strong consumer responses, whether that’s excitement or some initial revulsion,” Alan explained. “But in both cases, the food brand mash-ups create lots of organic buzz and conversation with people posting on social media that they are dying to try the new item, and others playfully responding that they are disgusted.”

But is a temporary rise in sales and a flurry of fleeting likes, shares, and retweets enough to sustain a brand’s growth? Probably not.

And so the pressure is on for brands to keep the hits coming, if only to keep the buzz buzzing. “These co-branded partnerships are often low-hanging fruit to create something that will get consumer attention for two minutes,” Alan explained, “but they are generally short-lived and you need to keep coming up with more to get that same consumer rush of quick dollars.”

For brands, food mash-ups are not always just about creating a flash in the pan. They’re often about maintaining a constant simmer. For example, Burger King’s Cheetos-based menu items include the OG “Mac ‘n Cheetos” and the new kid on the block: Cheetos Chicken Fries. Alan said these kinds of partnerships “have led to wildly-successful new platforms” and have given food brands the opportunity to “expand their brand visibility and revenue into new channels.” And that’s where the real growth can happen.

Ultimately, Alan posits that food brands need to stay as close to their customers’ cravings as possible – no matter how weird or wacky. “The bottom line is that consumers are the driving force behind brand partnerships because there is this insatiable interest in new and next food and beverage experiences,” he said.

“In fact, increasingly, we are a culture that wants every food occasion to be an experience, whether that’s protein and nutrition-powered ingredients, textures that satisfy our need for crunchy or, above all, delicious, bold, fun flavors that make us crave more.”

Crave on, everybody. Crave on.

You may be interested in:

Brand matters… now more than ever

Brand matters... now more than ever In the face of rapidly shifting customer expectations, it can be hard for brands to maintain relevance. Charles Trevail, CEO of C Space and Interbrand, delves into the recent changes in consumer behavior, and why,...

Rita McGrath: Inflection Spotting

Rita McGrath: Inflection Spotting Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Any company can detect early warning signs of a looming inflection point. They just need to know where to look and when to act. So says Columbia Business School professor and author...

C Space launches ‘Customer as a Service’ scheme

C Space launches ‘Customer as a Service’ scheme

Research Live

UK – Global customer agency C Space has consolidated its insight offering by launching a new toolkit, ‘Customer as a Service’ (CaaS).

Branding with Soul: Q&A with Tina Sharkey, co-founder & CEO, Brandless

Branding with Soul: Q&A with Tina Sharkey, co-founder & CEO, Brandless Tina Sharkey is an entrepreneurial force. Since the days of the dial-up modem, she has been building communities, companies, and brands “with soul.” Today, she’s co-founder and CEO of Brandless, a...

Tom Siebel: What Exactly is Digital Transformation?

Tom Siebel: What Exactly is Digital Transformation? Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: In the corporate world, it’s evolve or die. Since 2000, 52% of Fortune 500 companies have either been acquired, merged, or gone bankrupt. Tom Siebel believes digital...

Customer Values: Q&A with Peter Fader, Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania

Customer Values: Q&A with Peter Fader, Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania Peter Fader has written two books, both with “customer centricity” in the title: Customer Centricity and The Customer Centricity Playbook. You’d think...

Research experts even more vital in big data era

Research experts even more vital in big data era

by James Gordon
Raconteur

For companies to add value through data science, they still need market researchers to interpret the “what” from the “why”. C Space Regional CEO, EMEA & APAC, Felix Koch provides comment.

The Collaborative Advantage

The Collaborative Advantage7 Ways to Combine Big Data Methods with Active Customer Collaboration The huge promise of Big Data also lies in its biggest limitation. There’s a temptation to think that companies no longer need to bring the active, knowing, feeling human...

Customer Inside: A Practitioners Guide to Online Communities

Report Customer Inside: A Practitioners Guide to Online Communities C Space partnered with the Market Research Society (MRS) and 130 client side practitioners to explore & understand how to get the most out of online communities (and the agencies that run them)...

Kate Tellers, The Moth: Principles of Great Storytelling

Kate Tellers, The Moth: Principles of Great Storytelling Subscribe to the Outside In podcast: Stories are the great unifier. When told well, they create a powerful connection to the human experience. No organization knows this better than The Moth. Since...