You may or may not be aware of it, but the Jell-O brand is struggling. The nostalgic Kraft treat that once delighted children and dieters (“There’s always room for Jell-O!”) has seen its sales slip significantly in the last five years, tumbling 19% from $932.5 million in 2009 down to $753.8 million this past year. There are several theories on why this is happening. One likely culprit is the trend of health-conscious eating. While Jell-O was once marketed as a low-fat, low-calorie dessert alternative, eaters of today are not only looking for products that are not bad for them, but things that have inherent health value, such as the favored sweet snack of the moment, Greek yogurt. It also doesn’t help that the second ingredient in most Jell-O products is high-fructose corn syrup, and that the bright colors alert parents of the many artificial ingredients the product contains. I can’t imagine a world without Jell-O, but then again I couldn’t imagine a world without Kodak, until there was Instagram. I get paid to help major corporations with the kinds of problems that Jell-O is having all the time, but sometimes you have to do it for the love. Jell-O, this one is on me. Let’s make that pudding pop again!
Kraft CEO Tony Vernon believes the slip in popularity has more to do with a lack of “attention” the brand has been getting at the company. For many years, Kraft focused its strategies on more popular brands such as Oreo and Chips Ahoy (I guess people temporarily forget about their healthy lifestyles when they’re double-stuffiing their faces…or drinking Coke or Pepsi. Bottom line, the health craze hasn’t stopped people from consuming sugar-filled products). At the end of 2012 however, Kraft was divided into two companies, with the newly created Mondelez International retaining the two famous cookie brands. This has lead Kraft to take a second look at what can be done to reinvigorate Jell-O. Despite a popular ad campaign, the release of new molds in the shapes of college university mascots, and a push for people to share their Jell-O creations on social media sights like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, Jell-O has been unable to stop sales from slipping.
When I first heard about this, I couldn’t believe a timeless brand like Jell-O was having a difficult time. I began to think of some things they could do to turn things around, and I kept coming back to licensing. Fine, there is a health craze going on right now and people don’t want to eat Jell-O the way that they used to. That doesn’t stop Jell-O from being one of the most easily recognizable, and thus valuable brands in the world. While Jell-O has been licensing college logos to appeal to students, they should make a push to license their own brand to other products and companies. Oreo is a perfect example of a brand that did this very effectively, especially in the ice-cream space, with every company from Klondike to Breyers wanting a piece of the name.
These endevors have been huge successes for the Oreo brand and kept them flying off the shelf. Why can’t Jell-O do the same? Where are the Dunkin’ Donuts with Jell-O brand pudding inside? Jell-O-flavored skittles, jellybeans, sour snacks etc. anyone? Let’s say Jello-O wants to reclaim its healthy-for-kids image, why not partner with brands in the kids and health space, like Pedialyte or Skinny Cow? They could make Jell-O flavored mouthwash for kids. I know there are some Lunchables that include Jell-O, why not ramp these up more? Jell-O The brand is so recognizable that it can be used to sell products that are not even food. What about jelly Crocs in the official Jell-O colors/flavors? Where are the special edition Jell-O crayons? They’ve had contests in which people submit a picture of their coolest Jell-O molds but why not get more reative? How about a Jell-O-themed smartphone game, like doodle jump where you bounce off of Jell-O walls and avoid landing in pudding? People would love it and the Jell-O brand would be everywhere! I’m just brainstorming here but the applications are endless. $750+ million in annual sales and over 100 years of ad content are nothing to sneeze at. My head of Licensing, Faith Wall, would have a field day with an incredible brand like Jell-O. They have a huge, loyal customer base that they need to tap into. Jell-O should take this opportunity to exercise the Power of Broke and get creative with their marketing. Licensing, if done right, can be the best ad campaign for your product. They are side endeavors that bring attention back to your primary product. And, if you are going to make a traditional ad campaign, why not capitalize on Jell-O’s iconic former spokesman, Bill Cosby. What about a campaign based on those adds, but staring someone like Kevin Hart? It would be hilarious! So what? People aren’t into eating Jell-O at the moment, that doesn’t mean they’re not hungry to consume the brand!.
I know it’s easy for me to sit back and make these kinds of suggestions, and look, maybe Jell-O has/is trying some of this stuff, but based on my research, I think they could be doing a lot more. Those are my tips, hopefully Jell-O puts them to good use, but even if they don’t read this piece, I hope they help you with your own corporation or brand.
What are some cool things Jell-O could be doing to revitalize their brand? What are some things you would do if you had a 100-year-old brand that did nearly a billion in sales? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.