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Thread: Potato chips marketing exposed

  1. #1
    Administrator Islander's Avatar
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    Default Potato chips marketing exposed

    Paul van Eijck
    PotatoPro newsletter
    December 2, 2011

    I just came across a very interesting piece of research, that was also very nicely described in a blog post by one of the authors. A must read for marketers of potato chips - especially if you want to sell your chips expensive...
    You can find the complete blog at: Language of Food: Potato Chips

    This excerpt focuses on what they exactly did and what they found:
    Josh and I looked at 12 bags of potato chips, 6 more expensive (Boulder, Dirty, Kettle Brand, Popchips, Terra, Season's, averaging 68 cents per ounce) and 6 less expensive (Hawaiian, Herr's, Lays, Tim's, Utz, and Wise, averaging 40 cents per ounce). We coded up all the advertising text from the back of the chips and then examined how the words differed between the two classes of chips.

    What factors characterized expensive chips?

    You may be surprised to learn that potato chips are a health food; almost all chips (expensive or not) emphasized the healthiness of their products by using phrases like "low fat", "healthier", "no cholesterol", or "lowest sodium level". But these health-related claims occur on expensive chips 6 times as often as on inexpensive chips (6 times per bag versus once per bag). This difference in health language is not, as far as we can tell, due to actual differences in the chips. No chips in our sample contain trans fats, but only 2 out of the 6 inexpensive chips talk about it. By contrast, every one of the 6 expensive chips mentions the lack of trans fats.

    Expensive chips also turn out to be much more natural. Phrases such as "natural", "real", or "nothing artificial" are 2.5 times more likely to be mentioned on expensive bags (7 times on each expensive bag but under 3 times on each inexpensive bag).

    Finally, expensive chips are 5 times more likely to distinguish themselves from other chips, using comparative phrases like "less fat than other leading brands", "best in America", "in a class of their own". or "a crunchy bite you won't find in any other chip". Where text on the inexpensive chips focuses on the chips themselves, ads for expensive chips emphasize their differences from "lesser" chips.

    Another way to differentiate is to use negative markers, words like "never", "not", or "no" ("never fried", "we don't wash out the natural potato flavor", "no wiping your greasy chip hand on your jeans").
    Negation emphasizes bad qualities that a chip does not have, subtly suggesting that other brands have this bad quality. To get a more fine-grained analysis, we also regressed the number of negative words against the price. We found that a bag of potato chips costs 4 cents more per ounce for every additional negative word on the bag.
    I especially like that last line: "We found that a bag of potato chips costs 4 cents more per ounce for every additional negative word on the bag".

    So: can anyone think of more negatives to put on a potato chips bag?
    ➤ Happiness is the frosting on the cake of contentment.

  2. #2
    Veteran Member mellowsong's Avatar
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    Default Re: Potato chips marketing exposed

    The negatives I'd love to see: Never lacking carcinogenic acrylamides. Guaranteed NOT good for you. Completely nutrition free. Never look at the suggested portion size. Nothing natural about this, especially since the potatoes are GMO.

  3. #3
    Veteran Member Katee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Potato chips marketing exposed

    It has been a while since i bought chips, but i always got "organic" because their "all natural" claims mean nothing. Organic at least doesn't have GMO products but they usually do have "healthy" soy or canola oil. Don't think i'll be buying them again, tho we do sometimes get organic corn chips.

    I wonder if the expensive vs cheap chips have a difference in the MSG levels? (The stuff that keeps folks wanting more.)

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    Veteran Member highlander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Potato chips marketing exposed

    But...the fluorescent orange finger tips were my favorite part...

  5. #5
    Administrator Islander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Potato chips marketing exposed

    Highlander, I thought those came from cheese puffs!
    ➤ Happiness is the frosting on the cake of contentment.

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    Veteran Member LabDoc's Avatar
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    Default Re: Potato chips marketing exposed

    I think you have just ruined my Christmas. My family ALWAYS puts potato chips (Amongst other things) on the table as an appetizer before Christmas dinner, it's the only time of the year I eat them and I love them - looks like another family tradition has gone !

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    Veteran Member mellowsong's Avatar
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    Default Re: Potato chips marketing exposed

    Quote Originally Posted by Islander View Post
    Highlander, I thought those came from cheese puffs!
    Well, the cheddar Pringles do a pretty good job too, as do barbecue potato chips.

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    Veteran Member Reesacat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Potato chips marketing exposed

    I eat them on Christmas, also LabDoc.
    You have to live a little

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    Veteran Member Aaltrude's Avatar
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    Default Re: Potato chips marketing exposed

    LabDoc, once a year is not likely to hurt you. Just don't get hooked and eat them every day Attachment 198

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