The other day I walked down the candy aisle and realized that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups had become a growth platform. Oh, I was well aware of Reese’s Pieces. And I’ve eaten my share of Miniatures (Smart strategy: People–I won’t name names–that would never buy the full-size cups will eat 20 of these!) But what took me by surprise was how many products there are under the Reese’s brand name: Candy Pieces, White and Dark Chocolate Cups, five kinds of candy bars (Whipps, Nutrageous, Fast Break, Wafers and Crispy Crunchy) and the new Select line of Clusters and Peanut Butter Cremes.
Not every line extension is smart. And certainly not every one works. But this is good stuff, and not only because the world needs more peanut butter and chocolate. First of all, they are getting distribution. More facings = more sales. But more importantly, each of these products is remaining true to the essence of the brand. It was never about cups. Rather, Reese’s has always been about the irresistible combination of peanut butter and chocolate. As a result, these products strengthen the brand, not dilute it, as often happens with line extensions.
Hershey’s has been building out their brands for years, probably pushing too far at times. (Anyone remember Swoops, the Reese’s candy that looked like a Pringles?) But other licensing ventures have landed nicely, such as the Reese’s branded cereal sold by General Mills, or the Reese’s flavored Breyer’s Ice Cream.
There are two points to make here. First, most brands have untapped equities that can be leveraged via line extensions. And second, knowing which direction to extend the brand is incredibly important. We see this often at SagePoint–companies that are reactive with their brands, entertaining licensing opportunities or new products as they are discovered. What they should be doing is creating their own brand architecture–a vision of what their brand could be, and a plan for realizing that potential. You get the sense that Hershey’s has learned from trial and error, but seems to have found its groove. Sweet news for chocolate-peanut-butter-lovers.
Why we like this innovation: Uh, duh? Have you tasted this stuff? Really, every product tastes good and distinctly like peanut butter and chocolate, but with relevant variations in form factors, sizes and ingredients. Plus, the packaging and branding are highly consistent, with every product clearly communicating the Reese’s equity.