Food PR Branding

The iconic Campbell’s soup can almost defines American brand and design. The most famous and classic flavor of soup is chicken noodle, and now Campbell changed the chicken noodle recipe with different ingredients to get the soup “closer to the kitchen”:

“We’re closing the gap between the kitchen and our plants,” said Denise M. Morrison, chief executive of Campbell.

They introduced the new recipe with a new line of limited edition Star Wars themed cans release in celebration with the new “Force Awakens” movie. The recipe reduces the amount of ingredients from 30 to 20, and most of the ingredients can be commonly found in any household.

Declining Sales

These changes come after the Campbell’s brand saw a gradual decline in sales over the last year. Last year the company saw a sharp 5% decrease in sales both in the condensed soup and ready-to-eat market.

The declining sales possibly come as the result of competition from brands like Annie’s or Amy’s Natural promoting a healthier option to an increasingly health-conscious millennial consumer. Morrison notes the difference in the way Campbell’s addresses the business in general:

“‘Before, when we talked about our business, we talked about how many cases we shipped,’ Ms. Morrison said in an interview here in her office. ‘Today, we’re talking about our food’ — as in what’s in it, where it comes from and what impact it has on the environment.”

Since Morrison has taken the CEO position in 2011, the company has been using social media to address growing trends in food and have a dialogue with consumers. As a result, Campbell’s is experimenting with organic product lines, and rethinking some of the most basic recipes.

Signs of Change

Changing up the recipe of the chicken noodle soup may get some negative reaction from consumers used to the old product, but shifting changes in Campbell’s may be necessary for the company to remain relevant.

The good news for the 146-year old company – early sales of Campbell’s organic line sold in cartons are strong, and may signal consumers are willing to redefine what Campbell’s Soup is to them.

Also, acquisitions by Campbell’s offer more signs of the company’s change in the long run. In 2012, Campbell’s bought Bolthouse, maker of juices and salad dressing, and the next year, they bought Plum Organics, producer of pouched baby food.

Investing in Bolthouse and Plum Organics provides creative ways to better marketing campaigns in supermarkets and online. In the last year, 40% of Campbell’s advertising funds flowed into online campaigns based on the model set up by Plum Organics.

With new recipes and a new way to reach consumers, Campbell’s is an old company looking to a new and brighter future.      

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