Case Study: ConAgra Foods – Hunt’s Ketchup

Challenging an American Icon

Heinz has long been America’s favorite ketchup.

The brand was built on its superior thickness and renowned as “the slow ketchup”. Many remember the famous TV ads featuring the Carly Simon song “Anticipation” to underscore the brand’s demonstrable thickness. For years Heinz enjoyed a dominant, uncontested national market share of over 70% of the ketchup sold in all US retail channels.

Ascension strategists leading the #2 brand Hunt’s Ketchup in the late 1980’s leveraged critical ketchup user research insights that revealed thickness was in fact the second most important attribute in ketchup preference. The #1 most important attribute was “taste” yet this was an unexploited attribute for the category leader.

This insight led to the development by Hunt’s of a superior tasting ketchup to Heinz while maintaining a consumer perception of parity thickness.

The development and use of the national TV campaign titled the “Hunt’s Ketchup Challenge” over a three year period propelled Hunt’s national market share from 17% to over 25%. Additionally Hunt’s brand revenue grew in excess of +50% over the same time horizon.

This game changing and preemptive marketing strategy challenged conventional wisdom of the ketchup category at the time. It propeled the #2 Hunt’s brand into the national spotlight in the $1 billion ketchup condiment category.

The Hunt’s ketchup challenge and resulting significantly improved financial results underscore Ascension’s ability to leverage important market/customer insights into game changing and financially impressive results!