retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times reports that one result of the economic downturn is that CPG brands with long traditions are being given advertising boosts by their corporate masters, who seem to believe that their history of connections with shoppers will allow them to gain market share and sales.

According to the story, “Readers of this week’s People magazine could be excused for believing they were leafing through a Look magazine from 1959. Of the 44 full-page ads in the issue, half are for brands like Campbell’s, Jell-O, Kraft cheese, Lipton tea and Post cereal.

“Familiar packaged foods that were once dismissed as dowdy or out of date are regaining their puissance as Americans spend less and eat at home more. While marketers in fields like automobiles, financial services and luxury goods are slashing ad budgets … advertising is being maintained, and in some cases increased, for prosaic mealtime products like Heinz ketchup (up 967.1 percent in the first half of this year, according to TNS Media Intelligence), Hellmann’s mayonnaise (up 165.6 percent) and Jif peanut butter (up 39.8 percent).”

Among the other brands getting ad pushes, the Times writes, are Hormel, Oscar Mayer, Kellogg’s, Birds Eye, Bumble Bee, Betty Crocker, Del Monte, Hunt’s, Mott’s, Spam and Velveeta.

“This new consumer will shop the rest of her life differently,” Thom Blischok, president for consulting and innovation at Information Resources Inc. (IRI), tells the Times. “Behavior has been modified as a result of this recession.”
KC's View:
The Times links the resurgence of these traditional brands to the decision by Conde Nast to shut down its Gourmet magazine this week. I think this connection should not be overstated, because the fate of Gourmet probably is as tied to the general problems being experienced by almost all print media properties as it is to any decline in the foodie population.

While I agree with Thom Blischok that consumer behavior is being modified, I continue to believe that the aspirations that so many people had before the recession hit have not been completely abandoned – they’re trying to figure out how to fulfill them in different ways and with lesser means.

Value and values go hand in hand.