How Kraft is handling being a challenger

The CPG giant is escalating its push into hazelnut spreads with a social takeover on a day dedicated to its biggest competition.
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Kraft Heinz is launching a marketing push for its hazelnut spread on Friday – which just so happens to be World Nutella Day.

Kraft has planned a full content rollout for the day, which is the Ferrero-owned competition’s most important of the year. The rollout will feature social media ads, influencer posts and other content from the brand on Twitter and other channels.

“On a day typically observed by hazelnut spread lovers around the world, we will be reinforcing our role as the challenger brand and taking over the hazelnut spread conversation,” says Daniel Gotlib, associate director of brand building and innovation at Kraft Heinz Canada, in an email.

The challenger role is an unusual one for Kraft Heinz, which is the dominant player in most other CPG categories it plays in, including peanut butter and ketchup. It targeted the hazelnut spread category for product innovation because “consumer tastes are constantly evolving,” Gotlib says. The need to keep up with those tastes have become a priority for many CPG companies again in recent months, after spending the early months of the pandemic focusing instead on keeping their most in-demand products in stock.

“The pandemic has only accelerated the speed of change for consumer attitudes, tastes and habits,” he adds. “That is why we continue to focus on and invest in innovation.”

Kraft announced its arrival in the hazelnut spread category late last year with a comedic spot featuring a number of Italians – who one would expect to be loyal to the homegrown Nutella – reacting with dismay after discovering they enjoyed the Kraft product.

“This category has strong legacy associations with it, and being a challenger brand in a new category is different for Kraft Peanut Butter,” says Gotlib. “Driving awareness and trial is our first priority. Being a new brand, we need to challenge category conventions in breakthrough ways to increase our presence and association with the product.”

While the primary target for the new spread is Canadian families, Gotlib notes that all hazelnut spread lovers are encouraged to try Kraft’s product, and that “consumer response … has been overwhelmingly positive, with taste and texture listed as key attributes consumers love.”

In addition to its national social media push that includes online video and social posts, Kraft Heinz ran a contest for Vancouver residents from Monday through Wednesday to determine who would get a special hazelnut spread delivery this Friday by its bear mascots, Crunchy and Smoothie, riding vespas for their cleverly-named service, “Ubear.”

“Our consumers love engaging with our brands in an interactive way,” Gotlib says of the contest. “As consumers continue to look to brands for authentic and engaging experiences, having an interactive social presence and building campaigns that have strong engagement drivers helps our brand break through.”

The Kraft Hazelnut Takeover was developed by Rethink, which has devised several other campaigns that motivate interaction for the company in the past year, including last month’s “Draw Ketchup” contest and a 570-piece jigsaw puzzle giveaway last May. Media is being handled by Carat and the Colony Project is handling PR and influencers.