brand revival

Kraft Plans to Make JELL-O Cool with a New Generation

Posted by Dale Buss on November 26, 2012 02:02 PM

Kraft Foods executives have promised to breathe new life into the stable of venerable — some would say hoary — brands that they inherited in the breakup of Kraft this year. And it looks like JELL-O is getting a lot of the early attention.

JELL-O gelatin and puddings have been fading lately, the brand's performance a far cry from when Bill Cosby flogged JELL-O in now-iconic TV commercials. Only 10 percent of Americans say they have eaten gelatin in the past two weeks, down from 15 percent in 1998, according to market researchers NPD Group as cited in Crain's Chicago BusinessNew snacks and indulgences such as Greek-style yogurt, and versatile foods that can serve as desserts such as granola and nutrition bars, have cut into JELL-O's turf, largely because it was under-marketed in recent years.

Not even the tough economy of the last few years has revived JELL-O, despite the fact that its products are inexpensive.

"I think consumption has gone down because nobody pushed it, nobody marketed it," Phil Lempert, editor of SupermarketGuru.com, told Crain's. Kraft spent only half on advertising Jell-O in 2011 that it spent in 2010.

But while Kraft executives have indicated JELL-O is a priority for them, they've been playing it close to the vest about what, exactly, they plan to do with the brand and its product lines to reignite consumer interest. It's possible that they could go in a better-for-you direction with added nutrients, or provide a greater variety of JELL-O molds as licensees have done lately.

One new product already out of the chute is Mix-Ins for its pudding snack line, with toppings such as Turtle Sundae, Kraft sibling Oreo "Dirt" and Strawberry Shortcake plus pudding in a single cup, with real milk and no artificial sweeteners or high-fructose corn syrup.

"It's a great opportunity to really look at the ingredients and see what they can do to modernize the brand," Lempert said.

Maybe Cosby is even available for an encore.

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