A Red Sky at night may make Tyrrells take fright (OCR F292)

Jim Riley

28th March 2009

A really useful piece of business news for students preparing the Hoiles Crisps case study for OCR AS Business Unit F292…

Red Sky is a new brand in the fast-growing premium crisps segment. Who makes it? You might struggle to identify the manufacturer from the packaging.

The answer is Walkers, the dominant market leader in the mass market crisps sector. Walkers is owned by global food giant Pepsico.

Red Sky, initially available in four flavours, has been developed to attract older, more affluent customers. The range uses only natural ingredients, with Walkers targeting upmarket rivals such as Tyrrells, Kettle Chips and Burts, as well as aiming to grown the premium crisp segment by attracting new consumers.

The Walkers name is not featured on the new brand, and the company believes it will typically appeal to an older customer base than the established Walkers Sensations premium range.

The name is taken from the saying ‘Red Sky at night..’, which is nature’s promise of a good day to follow. The brand’s ‘natural’ positioning is carried through to the paper packaging, with as much of the pack as possible sourced from forests accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council. Each Red Sky pack also carries a pledge to preserve an area of rainforest.

According to an article in The Independent, the entry of Walkers into what was previously a niche segment, shows the strength of premium “sharing” crisps – the kind served as nibbles when friends come round rather than scoffed with sandwiches at lunch. According to market research company TNS, shoppers spent £368m on ‘sharing crisps’ in the last year – up 8.7 per cent.

Students taking OCR F292 will know that the Hoiles case study is based on the real-life story of Tyrrells Crisps. Tyrrells was set up by potato farmer Will Chase, who rapidly built a profitable and successful business in the premium crisps segment. He sold the business to venture capitalists for around £40m in 2008.

Jim Riley

Jim co-founded tutor2u alongside his twin brother Geoff! Jim is a well-known Business writer and presenter as well as being one of the UK's leading educational technology entrepreneurs.

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