Cross-Brand Collaborations Open up Store Shelf Space
For CPG Brands  

By Matthew Stern

Crossovers aren’t just for comic book characters anymore as consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies are more frequently reaching across the aisle to other manufacturers to create product mashups that let both companies capitalize on their name brand recognition.

Coca-Cola-flavored Tic Tacs, Starburst-flavored Yoplait yogurt and Twinkies-flavored cereal by Post are a few of the cross-CPG collaborations mentioned by SmartBrief’s Audrey Altmann in her coverage of the 2019 National Association of Convenience Stores show, which describes an increasing number of this kind of cross-branded combos.

Brands are also trying to emulate the success of earlier CPG/restaurant brand mashups like the Doritos Loco Taco at Taco Bell. Kellogg’s-owned Cheez-it snack crackers will be making an appearance in Pizza Hut’s Stuffed Cheez-it Pizza, a calzone-like product. Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are both Yum! Brands companies.

Cereal brands have picked up on the trend more recently; in 2017 and 2018 Post began releasing cereal/snack brand mashups with Oreo’s, Nutter Butter and Chips Ahoy! in partnership with Mondelez, according to Adweek. Last year, the two teamed up again for a Sour Patch Kids-flavored cereal. Competitor General Mills got in on the act recently as well with Hershey’s Kisses- and Jolly Ranchers-flavored cereals, according to Adweek. In fact, sales of sugary cereals along these lines are up.

That sugary cereals are thriving on the grocery shelf may come as a shock given the extent to which both CPG in general and breakfast foods, in particular, have been disrupted by healthy eating trends.

The demand for healthier “better for you” snacks has compelled major CPGs to gain a foothold in the space, not so much through partnerships as through the acquisition of smaller companies. In 2017, both Hershey and Campbell Soup undertook such moves to diversify their product lines.

Discussion Questions:

What do you see as the pros and cons of brand mashups? Do you expect retailers to follow the example of foodservice chains such as Taco Bell and Pizza Hut and pursue mashups of their own with select CPG brands?

Comments from the RetailWire BrainTrust:

The successful mashups tend to be in categories with a high level of variety seeking to start with. Cereals (particularly children’s cereals), both savory and sweet snacks, and fast food all fit that category. Gaining volume with these quick hit line extensions is much easier when another strong brand is involved. Built-in brand and flavor familiarity maximize trial with minimal advertising. No one has to tell a kid what Drumstick-flavored cereal is going to taste like. How long they last is another question. But it’s irrelevant when the strategy is to rotate novelty and variety in and out around core brand SKUs to begin with.
Ben Ball, Senior Vice President, Dechert-Hampe

Mashups can be creative and engaging when done well. Then there is the downside.

Two examples: Sour Patch Kids-flavored cereal from Post Consumer Brands and Mondelēz, and Froot Loops Birthday Cake breakfast cereal from Kellogg’s. How are these combinations even possible at a time when the food industry is touting healthy eating?
John Karolefski, Editor-in-Chief, CPGmatters

I love the idea, though I find some of the examples absolutely revolting. But that is OK. I won’t buy Jolly Ranchers-flavored cereal. Though I will buy Oreo Cookie ice cream.

There are two strong pros with these “mashups.” The first is that two brands are more powerful than one in shopper recognition. The other is that the shopper knows what to expect. I can imagine Coca-Cola flavored Tic Tacs better than just cola flavored Tic Tacs. I can depend on “Intel Inside” in my Lenovo laptop.
Gene Detroyer, Professor, International Business, Guizhou University of Finance & Economics; Executive Director, Global Commerce Education

You know, if it’s carefully thought out and it makes sense to the customer base, then why not? You get a two-for-one brand recognition and that is a plus for both brands. The Doritos Locos Tacos were brilliant – and pretty tasty as well.
Richard Hernandez, Director, Affiliated Foods, Inc.

I’m a HUGE fan of what I have coined “newfangled collaborations.” Whether between CPG brands or unlikely brick-and-mortar bedfellows, creating unique unions across seemingly disparate brands can be a BIG thing. It not only brings excitement to a category (or retailer), but it also crosses audiences to build awareness for both brands and attract new consumers.

The pros are many, including: enthusiasm; newness; buzz; category expansion; portfolio diversification; and consumer engagement, to name a few.

There are, however, cons: loss of brand identity; alienation of shoppers; confusion; the “who’s in the driver’s seat syndrome,” and difficulty creating a unifying message.
Dave Wendland, Vice President, Strategic RelationsHamacher Resource Group

Read the entire story and RetailWire discussion at

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                                                                         Early February 2020
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