As I mentioned in a blog post a couple of weeks ago, a nice PR person named Stephanie, emailed me to let me know Frito-Lay would be coming out with a New and Improved version of the SunChips compostable bag. She asked if I’d like a free sample of the old bag and new bag to compare the two. I said, “yes!”
So my sample arrived this week, along with a letter from an R&D Sr. Manager of Sustainable Packaging at PepsiCo Advanced Research…addressed to someone named Matthew. (Presumably, Matthew now has a letter that starts, “Hi Suzanne.”) What I found most interesting is that the letter makes a big point to state:
“Please note that the bag graphics on both the first generation and the second generation compostable bags are identical, so the only way you’ll be able be able to tell the difference is to gently squeeze the bags.”
Um…that’s not actually true. The original bag devoted a third of the front of the package to screaming “THE WORLD’S FIRST 100% COMPOSTABLE CHIP PACKAGE!” The new package has a tiny little graphic that says “100% compostable; made with renewable materials.” What the new bag has — in a much larger graphic that the compostable mention — is a claim that the product is made with all natural ingredients.
These are two entirely different messaging strategies.
And, in fact, leading with All Natural Ingredients may attract more buyers than World’s First Compostable Chip Package will. We know that consumers prefer to see “all natural” or “100% natural” on a package than many other ingredient claims. And we’ve seen in the conjoint work we’ve done in our Eco Pulse study on two other food categories — soups and cereals — that swapping out basic, everyday ingredient claims for “all natural” ingredient claims does buy a little consumer preference…though not much. What buys the most consumer preference in the food category — when tested against other sustainability/health-oriented ingredient claims — is an endorsement from the American Heart Association.
We haven’t actually tested a food ingredient claim against a packaging claim, so it will be interesting to see what the one-two punch of all natural and compostable does for SunChips’ sales. The new bag is quieter, so it shouldn’t interfere with the comfort and convenience table stakes any brand must meet before they can get a mainstream consumer to buy a greener product. But make no mistake, Frito-Lay is pursuing a different approach — the compostability of the bag is clearly presented as an add-on, a cherry on top, but the Reason To Buy is the perceived health benefit that comes from all natural ingredients.