Published in Nov-Dec 2021
In 2007, PepsiCo brought plain Lay’s flat-cut crisps to Pakistan and subsequently introduced several flavours to the range. Four years later, in 2011, another brand – Lay’s Wavy – was launched in the ridged-cut crisp category. Initially, Wavy was available in two flavours – BBQ and Mexican Chilli – until September 2021 when a third – Flamin’ Hot – was introduced and is now available in all the large cities and towns across Pakistan.
Discussing the introduction of Flamin’ Hot, Misbah Ghani, Marketing Manager, Lay’s and Lay’s Wavy, PepsiCo Pakistan, points out that the main drivers “were quality, flavour superiority and variety. People get bored very quickly in this category, so innovation is key.”
Internationally, Flamin’ Hot has seen considerable success and is available in various countries, including Egypt, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and the US. Flavours are tweaked to suit local tastes and allow for variations in spice expectations and tolerance.
“After analysing our flavour profile and thinking about what would work for the Pakistani consumer, Flamin’ Hot stood out, because it provides something culturally relevant – spice,” says Ghani.
The macro snacks category is very broad, composed as it is, of everything people would snack on. It is divided into two broad segments: sweet and savoury. Sweet snacks include biscuits, cakes, chocolates and confectioneries; savoury snacks include chips, nuts, nimco and even instant noodles. The category is extremely competitive and in Pakistan, has registered an annual growth rate of 20 to 30% (source: Pakistan Credit Rating Agency, December 2020). In the ridged-cut potato chips category, Lay’s Wavy competes with Super Crisp and Kurleez, as well as with the unbranded ridged crisps available at bakeries. Broadly speaking, the brand is also competing with all potato-based snacks, including papads and puffs (which primarily appeal to SECs C, D, and E.)
According to Ghani, none of this poses too much of a challenge. “A bakery can only have a limited number of branches, compared to the 400,000 to 500,000 stores Lay’s is available at and this gives us a huge edge.”
Teens and young adults belonging to SECs A and B are Wavy’s target audience because the product is sold at a higher price point – Rs 20 (23 grams), Rs 30 (35 grams) and Rs 50 (50 grams). In terms of brand positioning, Ghani says that “the spice level is usually a curiosity driver, especially among younger consumers” and Flamin’ Hot is positioned as the cooler, younger, edgier cousin of its existing, mellower flavours. The campaign was developed and executed by BBDO Pakistan, based on the big idea ‘Yeh hai har chip se zyada hot’ (It is hotter than any other chip).
According to Hira Mohibullah, ECD, BBDO Pakistan, “we felt it was time to graduate from the literal elements of fire and embers, an already well-known visual vocabulary among consumers, to translating ‘Flamin’ Hot’ into metaphors and analogies. The idea was to position the product as hotter than anything out there, whether it was a bit of sizzling gossip, news hot off the press, blazing dance moves or a heated argument.”
In terms of media, Ghani says that “although the target audience was young people, we promoted Wavy on TV to create initial mass awareness about the introduction of a new flavour. However, the budget was skewed towards content and sponsorships that would increase our visibility among younger audiences.”
Digital platforms that were used included YouTube and Instagram through influencers, as well as subscription deals on e-commerce. The response according to the brand has been 99% positive as measured by PepsiCo’s social media sentiment index. Given the success, Ghani concludes by saying that the company will be continuing to introduce new flavours in the category.