The Peanut Principle

23 Jan

Why do kids get so wound up for Skippy peanut butter? It’s not anything in the product. Skippy is just sugar, corn syrup, salt, peanuts and hydrogenated vegetable oil like every other major brand.

It’s the damn peanut at the top.

Of course IT’S JUST A PEANUT. It’s not a magical plastic prize or a discount on DS games. It’s just a lousy peanut.

But kids love that peanut. Brothers and sisters fight over who gets to eat it. They pull it out of the grocery bag in the car to get at that peanut.

Is this the most ingenious product differentiator ever? Or the most unexpected side-effect in marketing history?

> Ultimately Skippy’s success had nothing to do with taste. Throw out the product research and the Tastes Like Real Peanuts strategy.

> It was probably a fluke. The people at Skippy knew what they wanted to say (“See, made with real peanuts!”) but it’s hard to imagine they planned this response. Unless they’re parents of course.

> They were smart enough to go with the flow. Soon the line “The one with the peanut on the top” became the driver. They didn’t flood the market with commercials showing kids fighting over the peanut. But guess who was choosing the peanut butter at the grocery store.

It has made every other peanut butter jar I have opened up seem, well, disappointing.

It’s also proven to me that while you can plan for success, you can’t always be sure where it’s going to come from.

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