The business will ramp up investment in its product development to identify the “spaces between categories” where it can create sub-categories, says Giles Jepson, chief marketing officer at Heinz. The company hopes to develop similiar projects to its Lol brand, a soft drink targeted at teenagers earlier this year.
Heinz has launched some 30 different products across all its brands since the start of 2011 and plans to develop this rate of product development over the next two years.
Jepson, who previously headed up Heinz’s innovation unit, says the company will identify the categories and brands that can generate sustainable growth during an “increasingly tough” period for food companies.
He adds: “There’s a legacy of innovation here at Heinz but it has to get even more important for us a business over the next two to four years. Over the last couple of years we’ve doubled our rate of innovation when it comes to new products and brand extensions and the aim is to do this again over the next two years.”
Jepson points to the company’s first foray into the ready meals market with the launch of Heinz Big Ready Meals later this month. The launch will be supported with in-store promotions as well activity around the company’s partnership with the Rugby Football League.
To support the innovation drive, Heinz is planning to invest further in its Explorer Group, an innovation hub set up 12 months ago to identify new categories outside outside its current categories. “The group’s remit is very much about identifying and developing new growth legs behind the UK business. There are two or three products coming out of that group within the next twelve months,” Jepson added.
Separately, the company is also planning major marketing campaigns around its HP Sauce and Lea & Perrins brands later this year, after admitting that it has neglected both brands in the past.
Heinz is to increase its marketing spend as the company looks to maintain sales in emerging markets and ignite growth in sluggish markets such as the Western Europe and the US. Last month, the ketchup-maker said it would spend an additional $70m (£43.8m) on marketing this fiscal year. Sales were up 2 per cent year-on-year in Europe in its first quarter, with the growth coming mostly from higher prices.