Changing gears without losing momentum

“If it isn’t broken, why fix it?”
It’s a common mantra in many industries, but in marketing, this phrase is as good as a death sentence. In my view, you should always be thinking about the ‘next message.’ Consumer tastes are ever-changing, and as marketers we have to evolve alongside them.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with our Lay’s team for three amazing years on the Do Us a Flavor promotion. Along the way, we revolutionized the conversation between brands and their fans, and frankly, took flavor itself to new levels. It’s been an exciting ride, but it’s better to go out with a bang than the whimper of fizzling consumer interest.
Throughout the years, Lay’s fans have proven that they know, love and appreciate flavor, so this year we created a new program that would increase their influence from limited-time flavor offerings to actually impacting our core flavors. This evolution is what led to Lay’s Flavor Swap. We worked with our R&D team to develop some incredible new flavors, then we matched them up against four classic Lay’s flavors in a winner-takes-all showdown, leaving their fates in the hands of our fans. The winners will stay on the shelves, but the losers? Let’s just say their time in the spotlight will be fleeting. We’ve also created multiple avenues for consumers to vote, leveraging Twitter, Instagram, and even emojis to pick their favorites in each flavor match-up.

Speaking of emojis, we pushed a teaser campaign on Twitter, using emoji word puzzles to challenge our followers to guess the new flavors before the official announcement. This generated heavy consumer engagement and buzz, which fed directly into our digital campaign featuring the always funny Anna Faris, who lent her comedic talents to illustrate the ‘tough decisions’ our consumers will be making in the coming weeks. On a personal note, Anna was an absolute joy to work with, and committed to our concept wholeheartedly.
None of this would have been possible if we hadn’t stepped out of our comfort zone and mixed things up when nothing was ‘broken.’ As marketers, we should always be looking to stay ahead of the game, unafraid to step into uncharted territory. It’s natural to want to cling to the tried and true, but as marketing technologists, we need to keep our finger on the pulse of consumer interests, and never hesitate to rethink even our strongest programs. After all, momentum only works for you when you shift at your peak of power.