PepsiCo Powering the snacking category to new peaks

PepsiCo is one of the UK’s leading names in snacks and nutrition, with a powerful portfolio including the Walkers core brand and a huge array of subbrands including Sensations and Doritos, both key brands alongside Walkers crisps in the wholesale arena, where PepsiCo plays a crucial part in driving the category onwards.

The man leading Pepsico’s business in this sector is Matt Goddard, Wholesale Trading Director at PepsiCo. Matt spoke to Wholesale Manager about his role, the Walkers core brand and how PepsiCo continues to bring excitement to wholesalers’ businesses and the customers they service.

“I have been Wholesale Trading Director at PepsiCo for over a year,” Matt explains, “and had a career with the business spanning over sixteen years. PepsiCo is a leader in talent development, career management, diversity and company culture and this year was recognised as one of Britain’s top employers for the seventh year running. Prior to my current wholesale position, I headed up the field sales team at PepsiCo for nearly five years, working across impulse and grocery.”

Matt’s current role involves leading a team working across the wholesale trading environment from independent wholesalers in all corners of the UK through to multi-national wholesalers operating across Europe, and covering the PepsiCo snacks and nutrition portfolio:

“Our aim is to increase sales for everyone in a complicated supply chain, from the independent retailer and coffee shop owner, through the wholesaler and the buying group.”

The modern history of the Walkers business started in 1989 when PepsiCo bought the brand. The first Gary Lineker advert for Walkers aired in 1994, with the brand temporarily naming its popular Salt & Vinegar variant ‘Salt-n-Lineker’. But the actual story goes back to 1948, when Henry Walker launched the Walkers brand in Leicester in 1948 during post-war rationing, at a time when lightly salted crisps were becoming popular because of their affordability and value in dismal post-war England.

Today Walkers is the UK’s number one savoury snacking manufacturer and is celebrating its 70th anniversary, showcased through an updated pack design carrying the message “Celebrating 70 years of the nation’s favourite”. Matt Goddard puts it in perspective: “To have been a household name in homes up and down the country for the last seventy years is a remarkable achievement, which we are very proud of.”

The Walkers core brand, Sensations and Doritos have pride of place in PepsiCo’s powerful line up of brands and sub-brands which are perfect for sharing occasions, as detailed in their lists of recommended core sharing brands.

Sensations is the number one premium savoury snacks brand and recently launched its latest innovation, Sensations Street Mix, available in three different flavours inspired by the street food scene in three vibrant cities around the world, Mexico City, Mumbai and Bangkok. Doritos is the UK’s number one tortilla chip brand, and ideal for people looking for snacks to enjoy with friends or family.

Walkers also has a number of subbrands which are all popular with customers, including the recently launched Poppables, Quavers, Monster Munch, Walkers Max, Squares, Frazzles, Snaps and Cheetos. In addition they provide products for pubs and other outlets in the out of home channel with their carded snacks including Scampi Fries and Bacon Fries.

PepsiCo take a strongly insights-led approach to understanding the snacking category and the shopper and developing new products to grow the market, as Matt Goddard explains: “We start by analysing the trends to develop the best innovation to appeal to ever-changing shopper demands, as it is insight led-innovation which helps the category to perform well.”

Last year, says Matt, 16% of category sales came from new products. As he explains, it showcases the importance of NPD, but getting the core range right is also significant:

“We work closely with wholesalers and data providers to advise on the right core range to meet their needs. We expect the crisps and snacks category to continue to grow in wholesale, particularly as our data tells us that 99% of the population are buying savoury snacks every year, and both the number of trips people are making to store and the amount of items they are buying are in growth, so retailers will be constantly looking to stock up on their crisps and snacks offering.“

With Walkers having a market penetration of over 88%, there are very few customers for whom the brand is not relevant. Matt goes through the roll call:

“We work with businesses from retailers, coffee shops, clubs and sports bars through to multiple forecourt operators, airlines and shipping companies and everything in between. The biggest challenge is working with wholesalers to drive execution standards with their customers – the more we can all improve execution, the more rate of sale increases, benefiting all parties.“

The Walkers crisp range includes a strong selection of different flavours, which vary in popularity around the country. As part of the seventieth anniversary celebrations Walkers has been celebrating its more unusual flavours and the areas where they are most popular. Matt explains:

“As the nation’s favourite crisp brand, we have been marking this year’s special anniversary by matching six of the key flavours with the respective region which sells above the national average.”

The flagged up flavours and their top selling regions were Pickled Onion (Scotland), Tomato Ketchup (The North), Smoky Bacon (The Midlands), Worcester Sauce (South East), Marmite (South West) and Beef & Onion (Wales). The six flavours each underwent a pack design makeover to elevate their regional credentials, as well as carrying an onpack promotion, giving shoppers the chance to win £5,000 every week. Further excitement was generated through an accompanying TV campaign showcasing the eccentric ways consumers display their love for their regional favourite. The wholesale sector gave their full support to Pepsico’s initiative, Matt recalls:

“Dhamecha, a Unitas Wholesale member, was among the wholesalers who activated the campaign extremely successfully with great theatre, creating awareness and driving trial in-depot.”

PepsiCo are committed to helping their wholesale customers grow their crisps and snack business further, says Matt, with technology playing a key role: “We have been working closely with wholesalers to unlock the power of digital, working on bespoke imagery and hierarchy to make sure that customers can identify the best-sellers quickly and efficiently.”

Crisps and snacks have long been established as a category where trade sales respond strongly to correct stocking and merchandising in cash & carry depots as much as consumer purchases do in retail outlets:

“We encourage wholesalers to develop a strong relationship with suppliers to gain insight into consumer trends and brand performance, as this will inform them on how to best support retailers coming to them for stock. In depots, we advise wholesalers to divide the crisps, nuts and snacks category by shopper mission so that retailers can locate household brands easily on their visits. We also encourage our wholesale customers to speak to retailers about those ranges which are performing well in-store, and help them anticipate when there will be an increased demand in-depot, and an opportunity to drive sales.”

As well as single bags of the nation’s favourite crisp brand, wholesalers should also consider Walkers’ sharing ranges, Sensations and Doritos, as must-stocks due to their high rate of sale, and deliver the innovation and variety of options for snackers to enjoy. And it doesn’t stop there, says Matt:

“We have a lot of exciting plans on Walkers and the rest of our brands, for the remainder of the year and into 2019. Watch this space!”