Kraft Heinz sticks to a simple approach for hazelnut

The company's effort to challenge Nutella focuses on the ingredients and varieties families care about.

KH-hazelnut-spread

In the battle for hazelnut spread supremacy, it would seem Nutella has the upper hand as a pantry staple for Canadians and lots of brand equity.

But not if Kraft Heinz has something to say about it.

The company launched its own hazelnut spread in 2020, following it up with two product innovations: a Crunchy version, as well as one with 45% less sugar.

Marie Claire Hurtado, brand manager of strategy and communications for Kraft Peanut Butter, tells strategy that it put together a comprehensive shopper plan to support the Kraft Hazelnut launch, as well as the line extensions. Some of the in-store elements – developed with support from Salt XC on shopper strategy – included shelf wobblers, profit panels, secondary displays, shelf blades with coupons and a neck tag blitz.

“We entered the category with a consumer-centric point of difference,” says Hurtado. “[That campaign brought] to life a hazelnut spread that was made with no palm oil and low in saturated fat, while also delivering a delicious taste and creamy texture was a real unlock.”

And two years in, that approach is still relevant enough for Kraft Heinz to continue leaning into it (see, Walmart display below). The core message for shopper assets that are in market now still emphasize the lack of palm oil and saturated fats, as well as “prepared in Canada” secondary messaging that was introduced later. According to Hurtado, that’s based on insights Kraft Heinz gathered prior to initial launch, which revealed an opportunity for a hazelnut spread product without palm oil – a growing concern in the minds of consumers and a potential differentiator from market leader Nutella.

“The brand wanted to meet consumer needs and be simple and direct with them in the advertising and in-store displays,” Hurtado says.

KH-hazelnut

The campaign was very successful, consumers were excited to see this new market entry and the general sentiment was positive, she adds.

The primary target for Kraft Hazelnut Spread is Canadian families, the largest consumer segment for the product. And Hurtado is confident those who prefer low sugar contents and texture spreads will be eager to trial the more recent innovations. That’s also an area where Kraft has the potential to stand out against the competition: Nutella has only one variety.

On pack, Kraft drives shelf appeal for its hazelnut spread with its mascots Crunchy and Smoothie, which are trusted characters that carry a strong equity that translates beyond peanut-based spreads. Hurtado says the bears felt like a natural extension to bring this product to life as well.

To complement the in-store program, there was initially intended to be a robust traditional sampling component. However, due to COVID restrictions, Hurtado says it had to pivot its sampling programs. Today, it regularly explores DTC alternatives, such as Amazon’s sampling program, Cornershop, Hello Fresh, Sample Source and Well.ca.