Are the odds STAX-ed against Doritos?

May 2020

Doritos is no stranger to outlandish marketing experiments, embracing unorthodox flavours and advertising to maintain relevance amongst its capricious Gen Z target audience.

The brand recently made a splash by separating its strongest asset from any (and all) context, producing a number of ads (TV, OOH) featuring only the brand’s iconic triangle logo – devoid of any other branding or category cues.

This bravery was on full-display again recently with the UK-launch of Doritos STAX – a reformulated tortilla chip designed to fit neatly in a triangular cannister, squarely taking aim at Pringles’ dominance in the segment.

While the novelty-factor is clear, does Doritos STAX offer enough meaningful benefits to motivate people to switch? We put the concept to UK consumers using our Innovation Testing solution, looking at 3 C’s to predict in-market success:

  • Captivate: Does it stand out and elicit a positive emotional response?
  • Connect: Is the brand instantly recognisable?
  • Compel: Does it pre-dispose people toward purchase?

Captivate

Doritos STAX elicited a mixed emotional response. On one hand the triangular cannister was novel and intriguing – making the proposition clear while integrating an iconic branding device.

On the other hand, the aesthetics and flavours were generic and lacklustre. Few standout features meant consumers responded passively, with more people left feeling ‘content’ than ‘amazed’.

The exception to this was calling out the 100% recyclable packaging – a priority for the brand’s environmentally conscious Gen Z target audience.

Connect

The triangular cannister worked to both set the product apart on-shelf, while also making it recognisable for Doritos. Speaking to its efficiency as a brand asset, a third of people recalled Doritos from this element alone.

Nonetheless, the shift to a cannister format was an odd fit for the brand, as was the move away from the vibrant packaging persistent across the rest of Doritos’ tortilla chips range. Similarly, the headline flavours lacked the chutzpah Doritos is renowned for, forgoing an opportunity to leverage this unique association.

Compel

Despite the new packaging shape and format being innovative, consumers were savvy enough to recognise that the underlying offer was largely unchanged. Along with offering few differentiating benefits, the cannister format wasn’t perceived to offer any meaningful advantage over bags.

This meant people were price sensitive, with only a third considering the £2.50 price tag (for a 170g cannister) to offer good value – further inhibiting the product’s take-up at the point of purchase.

Conclusion

A core objective of the Doritos STAX launch was to challenge Pringles’ leadership by appealing to a younger audience. The brand was reasonably successful in this endeavour, with the novelty associated with the triangular cannister sparking curiosity and positioning the brand as ‘modern’.

However, as important as it is for a new product to stand out and be recognisable, long-term success is dependent on more than just superficial elements. In the absence of meaningful benefits which would warrant people choosing them over alternatives, Doritos STAX generated only average purchase likelihood.

To improve their in-market potential, Doritos might consider complimenting the re-designed tortilla chips with “specially-formulated” flavours, in order to build more distinct benefits and better justify their price premium.

Innovation Testing New Product Doritos Stax

This is a self-funded case study using our Innovation Testing solution.

We were supported by leading market research technology platform Cint to collect data from respondents in the UK.

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