Ramanathan and Velayudhan define brand extension as a situation in which a product’s marketing team departs from the usual product line (779). Brand extension can be a potent tool or a colossal marketing flop depending on the approach implemented. In essence, brand extensions are attempts to develop a brand that is usually out of the company’s range of products such as the failed case of Cheetos Lip Balm. This paper examines the reasons Cheetos failed at introducing lip balm to its loyal customers. It further discusses a strategic approach to revitalize the marketing of Cheetos Lip Balm to the same target market or an alternative one.
Eating Cheetos leaves customers with an orange lip, which inspired the company to try Cheetos Lip Balm 2015. The new product would offer clients the sensation of Cheetos on their lips. The intentions also included the need to reduce chapped lips. As reiterated by Marsicano, the idea was terrific because the lip balm would make customers experience a sweet joy of Cheetos (15). The lip balm consisted of only a fraction of calories, which was an insignificant amount meant to have customers enjoy the feel of Cheetos a few hours after eating some. The idea sounded astounding and ahead of its time before the release of the product. However, the marketing team was about to find out that the strategy would flop.
The fact that Cheetos Lip Balm failed to convince its customers is an indication of a lack of market research. Moreover, a weak and inadequate marketing research makes a product to have a short life despite the size of the manufacturing firm (Maher and Singhapakdi 904). If Cheetos’ marketing team had promoted the lip balm as a free promotional product, the result would have been different. As a free product, customers would have thought of the lip balm as a novelty. However, since the Cheetos lip balm was introduced as a product that customers were to purchase, they may have felt that it was farfetched.
Dens and De Pelsmacker further describe the failed brand extension as a marketing gimmick that it is still difficult to comprehend how it went to higher management and onto the outlets’ shelves (166). The other aspect is that Cheetos failed to take advantage of focus groups. Besides, it is evident that many respondents were not used to testing a product. In addition, the many negative reviews highlighted that the lip balm was of poor quality and product extension would be unsuccessful.
The first strategy is for firms to know their target customers and have a deeper understanding of their needs and wants. Since a targeted market consists of a group of customers likely to buy a specific product like Cheetos, it would be necessary for the marketing team at Frito-Lay to carry out a Marketing Opportunity Analysis. The investigation would allow the branding team to scrutinize the potential size of the target market to have a better picture of customers who would have embraced the Cheetos lip balm. Consequently, the company could have know when and where to release the lip balm product.
Better yet, analyses like the MOA can help a firm investigate the potentiality of making profits and identification of probable competitors. Through the prior exploration of the targeted market, marketers at Frito-Lay can clearly understand the buyers’ personas, which is achievable by learning and listening from the customers. In such cases, focus groups can be of great assistance since they can experiment on the product. Ramanathan and Velayudhan further augment this advice by explaining that marketers assume they know their audiences’ lifestyle but they are often mistaken (779).
The second strategy is to reposition the brand purpose for the Cheetos lip balm. An effective brand should be naturally driven and purpose-based to the target customers. Therefore, when coming up with a brand slogan or product, Marsicano advises marketers to be less “business-like” to give the product authentic and natural feel (15). Similarly, in efforts to revitalize the Cheetos lip balm, the strategy should involve a slogan that makes customers feel that they are adding value to their lives or those of others. It is also imperative to invest in research that enables marketers to clarify one’s identity. Hence, the strategy will involve making Cheetos lip balm the heart of the company’s rebrand by finding ways to resonate with the audience.
The third strategy is about aligning the company’s branding objective to the innovation team. Products and their branding positions should have a complicated connection. Any new product entering a market should create and develop some relationship with its target customers in terms of their needs, which aids in evaluating a core brand position. The product management, which involves the integration of the targeted customers, data processing, and applying appropriate business systems, comes in handy in this stage (Dens and De Pelsmacker 166). For instance, with effective product management, the marketing team at Cheetos will ease the product’s penetration into the market.
The product management team should focus on marketing to the consumers rather than centering on prospects and leads. Once the brand reposition is stable enough, the marketing team can collaborate with the innovation team, which can further improve the product’s final appeal (Maher and Singhapakdi 912). For instance, if Cheetos’ marketing team had carried out effective research, it would have helped the innovative team to make the necessary appealing changes.
The fourth strategy is the budget pricing, which is releasing a product to the market at a less or zero price with the intentions of winning the customers as reiterated by Dens and De Pelsmacker (169). The product’s price will then increase as the product stays within the market’s appeal. Budget pricing focuses on the long-term goals such as helping the marketing team to gauge the product’s performance in the market. For instance, in efforts to rejuvenate Cheetos’ failed lip balm product, it would be advisable to make changes as suggested by customers followed by the re-release of the product as a free product whenever customers buy Cheetos. The strategy would make the customers to see the value of the lip balm, which is to reduce chapped, orange lips.
It is clear that Frito-Lay made serious mistakes when it released Cheetos Lip Balm. Although the idea would have been an amazing brand extension, the manner in which the company approached it was not effective enough. Some of the strategies to reposition the Cheetos lip balm brand should have involved prior investigation and research on the product before releasing it. The approach would have allowed the marketing team to understand the target market’s needs and preferences. Another strategy would have been the use of budget pricing through which the company would have introduced Cheetos lip balm as a free product initially.
Dens, Nathalie, and Patrick De Pelsmacker. “How Advertising Strategy Affects Brand And USP Recall For New Brands And Extensions.” International Journal of Advertising, vol 29, no. 2, 2016, pp. 165-194.
Maher, Amro A., and Anusorn Singhapakdi. “The Effect Of The Moral Failure Of A Foreign Brand On Competing Brands.” European Journal of Marketing, vol 51, no. 5/6, 2017, pp. 903-922.
Marsicano, Mario. “Cheetos Lip Balm & More Bizarre Brand Extensions.” WSJ, 2016
Ramanathan, Jayasankar, and Sanal Kumar Velayudhan. “Consumer Evaluation Of Brand Extensions: Comparing Goods To Goods Brand Extensions With Goods To Services.” Journal Of Brand Management, vol 22, no. 9, 2015, pp. 778-801.
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