Why Isn’t Heinz New Range Extension Taking On Colman’s?

We came across Heinz’s launch of a new range of traditional sauces – Horseradish, Mint Sauce and Tartare and the first thing we thought was – what a waste. Surely Heinz must realise there is an opportunity laid before them to take on Colman’s traditional accompaniments. What drove their decision to pass it by?

Was it really a case of it being what we call a ‘just because we can’ NPD. You know the ones – it will run down the line; there is a pack structure already being used by the business that can be adopted; it can be implemented fast; and it would make a good margin. Not a consumer insight or need anywhere to be seen.

Heinz horseradish, mint sauce and tartare sauce in squeezable upside down bottles Colmans tartare sauce, horseradish sauce and mint sauce in glass jars

Brands engineering cost out of their ranges to optimise profits is good business practice. However, to engineer emotion out is never a good move for a brand (especially when Colman’s exude it!). Heinz seem to have hung their hat on a convenience consumer need state with little emotional connection which in turn leads to reliance on only functional benefits.  Why did Heinz not look at digging deep to find a consumer insight that would make them leapfrog Colman’s and spearhead them into the hearts of their consumers – it just seems like a no brainer!  

We know from our work with consumers that there is demand for table presentable packaging/ badging of accompaniments. Just look at the olive oil category. And the explosion of artisan and boutique traditional sauces such as these:

A range of three different horseradish sauces in glass jars

We see a genuine emotional hook that could have set this Heinz range apart from the competition and especially Colman’s. Heinz has all the heritage and credentials that would reassure the most cynical of brand rejecters. In fact, surprisingly, horseradish sauce was how Heinz started, NOT tomato sauce as most would have attributed their roots to. So why did this nugget go unexploited? Take a look at the original bottle. Doesn’t that get you thinking about what Heinz could have done….

heinz old fashioned glass sauce jars

Looking at the consumer experience, Heinz have no excuses with a real capability in glass bottle production and labelling, surely even with an eye on cost they could have created something that oozed heritage, created a unique, pleasurable and emotional experience whilst confidently putting Colman’s in their place – second!  If anyone should be owning traditional table sauces then it should be Heinz, they could have given the likes of Colman’s a serious run for their money! Instead, the new launch just feels like a ‘just because we can innovation’, something that offers consumer a functional choice but little engagement except a Heinz logo slapped on it.

Published 19th November 2013 by Natalie Reed @ the Strategy Distillery