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Blue Ketchup

Keurig Green Mountain continues to reach beyond coffee to broaden what can be served from their Keurig single serving coffee machines. Coke announced a new partnership to produce their products in K-Cups in the upcoming Keurig Cold system, which will dispense cold teas, flavored waters, juices, and carbonated beverages. This partnership comes as a response to consumers taking control of their beverage choice and shifting to smaller, more convenient serving sizes.  This announcement comes after last year’s joint effort between Campbell Soup and Keurig Green Mountain to bring instant, single serving soup to Keurig coffee machines. Some consumer discussions have questioned the practicality of soup coming from the same source as their coffee, but others are excited for a new use of their coffee machine.

Like K-Cups, innovative convenience is a strong selling point for people. For instance, take the Burritobox – a burrito vending machine that heats up one of its five all-natural ingredient burritos while playing a music video. Current hype for this product was generated by social media, with people from all over the world demanding a Burritobox to come to their city. But, will convenience alone cause consumers to venture out of their routine purchases?

Balancing innovation with consumer comfort-level is also a topic consumer products companies are exploring. Exo, a new source of protein that is ”more sustainable and healthier” than some other protein sources, is capitalizing on protein bars. What sets them apart? These high protein bars are made from ground and roasted crickets. Their website lists the many health and environmental benefits of this protein over the more common forms of protein like cattle and chicken, but will consumers overcome the cultural taboo of consuming crickets?

All of these examples demonstrate the innovative ideas that are coming from the consumer products industry today.  The question becomes will these innovations have longevity or become blue ketchup, enjoying only a time and place of popularity.  To be successful with these new products over the long term, these companies will need to identify their customers and manage their product lifecycle to become a staple instead of a novelty.

Burritobox will need to find a steady stream of people willing to go out of their way to buy a reheated frozen burrito; perhaps targeting college campuses that have constant foot traffic and a supply of hungry, card swiping consumers in search of instant food will fit the bill.  Exo, already facing competition, will need to quickly create devout followers among the health focused consumers, and then leverage the power of social marketing to remove negative connotations.  Last, Keurig Green Mountain and Campbell are going to need to come out strong, overcoming some of the current skepticism and convincing consumers there is no other way to fix soup.  However, if Campbell’s K-Cup idea ends like blue ketchup, at worst, they have cannibalized some traditional soup sales yet reacquainted some long-lost consumers back to soup.  Just as consumers reengaged with red ketchup after the novelty of blue ketchup declined, customers will most likely resume the traditional method of heating and consuming soup.  In contrast, if Exo becomes a novelty, then they may only be left with…crickets.

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Tags: Strategic Innovation