Cleveland — Candy & Snack TODAY recently had the opportunity to sit down with Natalie Hagstrom, general manager cookies at Ferrara Candy Co., to dig deeper into the company’s rebranding of the Keebler line, which it purchased from The Kellogg Co. in early 2019.
Candy & Snack TODAY: Why was it important to develop a unified look across the Keebler brand at this time?
Hagstrom: We have made strategic investments in Keebler’s product renovation to reinvigorate the brand and drive growth. We wanted to reintroduce the brand to consumers in a relevant way through marketing and packaging while still showcasing the brand’s heritage, including the iconic red logo, the magic of the hollow tree and Ernie the Elf. We updated the graphics with a new, more consistent and modern look across the entire product line. We also added impactful ingredient claims and hero product ingredient visuals that bring to life the cookie’s taste appeal.
Keebler is a nostalgic brand that people hold dear and, with our brand promise “Made with Magic,” the brand and product are meant to emulate pure joy. So in line with that, while the brand will change to evolve over time, we also want to make sure the voice and personality of Ernie and the elves comes through in everything we do and we stand for craftsmanship as that’s the core of our brand ethos.
Candy & Snack TODAY: How long did it take to complete the redesign?
Hagstrom: We were “Ferrara Fast.” We started working on the refresh as soon as we acquired the business last summer and it’s rolling out in the market now.
Candy & Snack TODAY: Did you make investments in equipment and processes as part of the brand’s acquisition and relaunch?
Hagstrom: Our new packaging features updated ingredient messaging, modern and impactful imagery that differentiates the product on the shelf, and reclosable optimizations that enhance quality to keep 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.
In addition, new packaging materials will help improve freshness by providing a stronger barrier to lock in the one-of-a-kind Keebler cookie flavor consumers love.
To enable all of this we had to invest in operational capabilities to make cookies better and in people to enhance our competencies most notably by expanding marketing, sales and R&D.
While we don’t disclose the exact spend, 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.
Candy & Snack TODAY: Can you talk about the marketing campaign that goes along with the relaunch?
Hagstrom: Yes! As a part of the Keebler revitalization, we’ll introduce a new brand promise, “Made with Magic, Loved by Families” and we rolled out a 360-marketing campaign this summer that is centered on the Real Ingredient Additions, the magic of Ernie and the Keebler elves, and the moments of togetherness Keebler cookies create for modern day families.
The campaign will feature a new tv commercial, digital, paid and PR support, always-on social storytelling and retail activations.
Candy & Snack TODAY: Which of the Keebler brands are included in this initial relaunch?
Hagstrom: Our mission is to drive growth across our entire new cookie portfolio, but right now, we’re focused on brand renovations across the Chips Deluxe, Sandies and Fudge Stripe product lines. We have added more real ingredients to Chips Deluxe Original, Fudge Stripes and Sandies, which will now be made with real chocolate, Real Keebler Fudge and real Madagascar vanilla, respectively.
Candy & Snack TODAY: Ferrara recently extended the Keebler Dreams line with a caramel nut variety. Can the trade expect more new items from the Keebler brand this year or next?
Hagstrom: Our new Chips Deluxe Birthday Cake, which rolled out in August, addresses continued demand for a fun, colorful treat, with a dessert-inspired cookie baked with real milk and white chocolate chips and colorful sprinkles. The Chips Deluxe product line has inspired consumers to make more store trips to buy their favorite Chips Deluxe cookie — up 11 percent year on year. Historically, Keebler Birthday Cake flavor Items achieved a 21.1 percent repeat purchase rate, which is one of the highest in the category.
Keebler’s Maple Cream Fudge Stripe is a limited offering that launched in September and delivers all the flavors of fall. Keebler Fudge Stripes are the number one fudge cookie brand in the nation, with dollar velocity growing at 2.2 times the total category. To continue to build on this momentum, we’ve lasered in on being responsive to how consumers shop the category. 54 percent of purchases are not planned and taste is a top purchase driver. Part of our success with our Fudge Stripe line has been offering on-trend flavors.