Heinz shores up brand equity in response to private-label threat

“It Has to be Heinz” represents the brand’s biggest umbrella campaign in five years in the U.K. The latest spot shows a range of lighthearted situations that “just have to be” (“Men just have to gather around the barbecue,” “Mum has to call at exactly the wrong time,” etc.), ending with the line “And always, it has to be Heinz.”

Like most supermarket brands, Heinz has been bruised by competition from private labels as consumers trade down and cut costs. In response, the company has hiked its global marketing spend this fiscal year by 15 percent, and CEO William Johnson recently said Heinz will continue to increase its marketing investment through April.

Heinz is coming at this recessionary challenge from a strong position: Its ketchup “consistently appears as the brand that British consumers least want to give up, followed by Heinz Beanz,” according to Marketing columnist Mark Ritson. So while many supermarket brands have been boldly asserting their value in response to the private-label threat (as we’ve noted), Heinz is doing something different: It smartly turns its ubiquity in the British kitchen into its own kind of value and implies that giving up the brand is akin to going against the natural order of things.

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