The countdown is on, literally, to “the sweetest comeback in the history of ever.” Twinkies are expected to return to the shelf on July 15th, and the Hostess Cakes website is helping consumers count down the minutes. After 6 long months for Twinkie lovers, these tasty treats will return to stores with no change to the recipe, packaging or price – consumers will still get a box of 10 cakes for just $3.99.
Considering today’s Consumer Products industry, some may be wondering how this will all end. Food trends are pointing companies to produce healthier options of their products – terms like “organic” or “gluten-free” are ever more popular in today’s marketing messages. Twinkies are on the dark side of the healthy spectrum. In fact, there are probably few people who have ever read the nutritional information on the box for fear that their conscience may constrain them from consuming that creamy filling. Currently, Twinkies are coming back in their fully-loaded form with all the calories, carbs, sugar and great taste that people remember.
Innovation is another hot topic for today’s Consumer Products companies, because demanding consumers have incessant needs for varying sizes, shapes, price points, packaging, and the list goes on. Most companies are fostering innovation groups, focusing on creating innovative cultures, and when all else fails even outsourcing innovation to research companies and/or consumers. But it seems that Hostess is temporarily ignoring this pressure, and the pressure they were under before bankruptcy. No innovative changes will accompany Twinkie on its sweet return, except for a message on the box that says “The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever.”
And what about private label competition? While Twinkies were away, private label cakes filled the shelves. Some, like Market Basket’s Golden Cream Cakes, seemed to meet consumers’ expectations. On the flip side, judging from the 400,000 likes on Hostess’s Facebook page and all the hype, the nostalgia of Twinkie will most likely give Hostess a strong start the middle of next month. Of course, this will soon wear off, and they will be back to the daily grind of managing margins. So, will they be able to sustain the business in the face of these Consumer Products trends?
Under new management, Hostess is considering these industry trends, as well as tried and true practices like operational excellence. First and foremost, they have already streamlined operations, de-unionized their workforce and changed their distribution channels to further their geographic reach. They are thinking about the health trend and considering gluten-free, added fiber, low sugar and low sodium products, according to Rich Seban, President of Hostess. In addition to health-related innovation, they are considering some additional product line extensions for Twinkies, playing with the texture of the cake and the flavor of the filling. As for private label competition, it’s hard to compete with the nostalgia of this brand and replicate its unique taste – private labels will certainly take a significant hit on July 15 and the weeks to follow, even if it’s short lived.
Most are excited to see this iconic brand resurrected, whether you’re a Twinkie eater or not. On July 15, lines are sure to form at grocery and convenience stores for people to re-experience a Twinkie-induced sugar coma. Perhaps it is true what they say – absence makes the heart, and in this case, the taste buds, grow fonder.