Lay's Potato Chips: classic marketing with a new-age twist

April 30, 2009

Want to see what a difference a few words and a design can make? Lay's Thick Cut Sea Salted Potato Chips were introduced as part of the brand's line of all-natural foods. Compared to Lay's Classic Potato Chips, the sea salted variety is thicker and (obviously) sprinkled with sea salt instead of table salt. What's the difference? In reality, there's very little. Sea salt and table salt have approximately the same composition, despite the fact that some claim sea salt has a more subtle taste. I'm not so sure – this subtlety could be adjusted by the amount of salt, or even suggested by the packaging and reviews. Compare the ingredients: Classic: Potatoes, Sunflower and/Or Corn Oil, and Salt. Sea Salted: Potatoes, Expeller-Pressed Sunflower Oil, and Sea Salt. Now, compare the packaging: lays-classic-bag lays-natural-bag Virtually the same product with decidedly different packaging that manages to retain brand image. Genius – and guess what? The sea salted variety costs more... Not that there's anything wrong with that. But it does beg a question: what is more important to consumers? Is it packaging or quality? Consider the question from a shopper's viewpoint. When browsing the grocery aisles, do consumers pick products based on quality or based on packaging? Or is it pure brand recognition? An interesting note: Lay's sea salted chips are often found in the organic or health food departments instead of on the 'normal' potato chip shelves. Do you think they've simply repackaged a very similar product for a different audience? 'Chip in' on this one – which of these products would you purchase, and why? Be honest!

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About Brian Morris

Brian Morris serves in various capacities as a freelance writer, content developer and public relations specialist for growing small businesses. When he’s not writing, he can be found on the racquetball court - usually getting his tail kicked by guys 20 years older.

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