Challenge

In China, the salted snack category had been slowing down in growth in the past three years. The annualised market growth was less than 5%. Lay’s was the dominated market leader in both salty snacks and potato chips.

Unlike developed markets where the communications of potato chips were targeted at mothers with kids, the core snack shoppers and consumers in China were young single males and females. Lay’s had been successful in capturing the young generation while Pringles’ business had been declining for four consecutive years and it was lagging behind Lay’s in terms of brand awareness, market share, trial, flavour options and other key measures. Yet, Pringles was selling at a premium price versus Lay’s. Pringles was perceived by young adults as expensive and not a young, fun brand.

In this unfavourable situation, the challenge for Pringles was to make the brand relevant to young adults in China.

Idea

The “Xpress Yourself” campaign leveraged the insight that young Chinese adults seek and reassure their own identities through expressing themselves, and by sharing and connecting with their peers. They are highly receptive to music and digital media. The idea was thus to develop an engaging digital platform where young adults could connect and interact through music that was created not by music professionals but by themselves.

In mid-January 2008, the “Xpress Yourself” Online Original Music Competition was launched, and Pringles was the first salty snack brand in China that provided a web-based platform for young adults to manifest their creativity in music and connect with their friends.

Execution

The “Xpress Yourself” Online Original Music Competition was developed through cooperation with the leading music portal in China – iFensi. The campaign ran from mid-January to mid-July 2008 for six months.

Digital: People could enter the official campaign site www.pringlesxyz.com.cn directly or via the link from www.ifensi.com. They could express themselves through uploading their original music, sharing music from the site freely with their friends, writing comments or leaving messages. They could also vote for their favourite music online or using their mobile phone with SMS or WAP.

Public Relations: Pringles brought the virtual event to reality by hosting mini concerts for winners and voters every month. The events strengthened Pringles’ engagement with young adults through the fun of live music in trendy bars and clubs. As a way to cheer the winners, different guest celebrities were invited to the mini concerts every month to perform with the winners. The campaign was wrapped up with a live grand finale competition in Beijing where the votes from both online and professional judges were counted to decide the final winners. These events captured the media attention and thus broadened the publicity of the campaign.

In-store: The online music platform was linked back to in-store with digital voting. With a unique product code on the Pringles can, people could vote with a heavier weight than those without a code.

Results

In a market where the salted snack category had slowing down growth in the past three years and annualised market growth less than 5%, the results achieved from the Pringles “Xpress Yourself” Online Original Music Competition were impressive.

Stronger presence at store level: Key measures including Share of Shelf, Share of Feature and Share of Display all improved.

Brand awareness and trial were significantly improved: Brand awareness increased 8% and trial increased 38%.

Significant business growth: Volume share doubled while profit increased four-fold.

Successfully connected with young snack consumers: Pringles’ online original music contest successfully exceeded all key performance indices: 140% more contestants, 67% more registrations and 96% more votes than expected.

As a result of the impressive achievements, Pringles received the highest President’s Award at Procter & Gamble’s Brand Building Awards of Greater China in 2008.