SuckerPunch Gourmet balances online, instore demands with new look, category-expanding products

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Source: SuckerPunch Gourmet
Source: SuckerPunch Gourmet

Related tags: pickle, Branding

Craft pickle brand SuckerPunch Gourmet’s new look shifts the focus from its iconic prizefighting mascot to the bold flavors and high-quality ingredients that set the brand apart from the competition, while also balancing the visual priorities of in-store and online marketing.

The new branding and packaging, rolling out early this year, comes as the company expands its footprint in new categories and appeals to a more diverse consumer-based with recent and upcoming product launches in the snack, beverage, and confection segments, CEO Alok Advani told FoodNavigator-USA.

He explained that while a rebranding always comes with some risks of confusing or alienating consumers, SuckerPunch was careful to maintain its “vintage roots,”“whimsey and personality”​ in the creation of its new look, while also tackling three common challenges all CPG brands face.

“Design is meant to solve a problem, and we wanted to solve for three things,”​ Advani said. “Are we easy to see against our competition on shelf, are our flavors easy to find … and finally are we the brand for you?”

Standing out from the competition

SuckerPunch wants to be “the challenger brand that really brings unique flavors and a fun point of view to the category, and it is really important for us to make the consumer stop and think and to show them how a lot of our competitors on shelf are more or less the same and SuckerPunch is different,”​ said Advani.

To do this, he said, the brand first and foremost needs to standout on shelf. As such, he explained, the brand opted too move its iconic prizefighter mascot, Sullivan, from the top center of its labels to the side, which allowed the flavors to take centerstage, and will help consumers more quickly find their favorite variety.

The emphasis on flavors was reinforced with the addition of bold saturated colors that distinguish each variety and allows the brand to create eye-catching blocking on shelf.

“We carefully chose these colors to standout against the competition, which is a sea of green on grocery store shelves, and we chose our colors to look best under grocery store lighting, moving the flavor names to the top so they are not obscured by the lip of tray or display,”​ Advani said.

At the same time the brand moved Sullivan, it also softened the mascot by recreating him in a modern Shephard Fairy style so that he appears less “chiseled”​ and “unattainable,”​ and more like a “hipster pickler than a bareknuckle boxer,”​ Advani said.

Many of the changes that SuckerPunch made also help the brand standout on digital shelves where consumers may view the products in a smaller format than in real life.

“We did an eye tracking study specific for ecommerce to ensure our design was optimized for screens against the competition,”​ he said, noting that the repositioning and color-coding of the flavors on the label makes it easier for them to be identified online and, like in stores, digital shelves can appear as a sea of green for pickles.

Streamlined call-outs focus on differentiation

The company’s decision to reduce the front-of-pack callouts also simplifies online shopping and emphasizes the brand’s key points of differentiation, Advani said.

For example, the redesign drops previous front-of-pack claims that the product is hand-crafted and small batch, but keeps the Non-GMO Verified icon and adds a pickle chip shaped burst that highlights the brand’s 11-spice blend.

“We still make our pickles year around, fresh packed and in small batches, but we really took an audit of the pickle category and realized that non-GMO is obviously important to many consumers and while some of the premium competitors in the pickle space have it, many don’t. So, we thought that this is a key differentiator for us,”​ Advani said.

“The second is the 11-spice blend, which we are very proud of and it is very unique to us and what gives us our iconic flavor. It is clear, plain as day, on the bottom of the jar [where the spices settle], but sometimes consumers need a reminder so we felt that this was something to call out as a differentiator,”​ he explained.

Calling out the blend on the front of pack also likely will help online shoppers understand the value of the brand in a situation where they cannot pick up a jar and see the spices gathering at the bottom or pinned between the pickles in the jar.

Not wanting to downplay the company’s boxing roots too much, Advani said SuckerPunch emphasizes both its fanciful backstory and its unique spice blends with a callout for “knockout flavor” on the top of the jars’ lids.

Consumers also can learn more about the brand’s roots on the back of the package, which tells the company’s ‘romance story’ in the style of a vintage prizefighting poster.

SuckerPunch expands in snacks, beverages & sweets

A major impetus for the redesign was the company’s ambition to expand into new formats and categories, beginning with its single service pickle snack packs, which launched in mid-2020, Advani said.

“Most people eat their pickles from a jar, which is easy to keep in the fridge and pull out to snack on all day, but which you can’t take with you on a hike or to a socially distanced picnic or pack in a lunch to go or anything like that. So, the 3.4 ounce single-serve pickle snack pack was created to solve that problem and to sit at the intersection of on-the-go snacking, better-for-you snacking and savory snacking,”​ Advani explained.

“This is a savory snack that is not a carb-bomb. A lot of people are shying away from carbohydrates and looking for keto snacks and this really helps satisfy that salty craving,”​ he added.

SuckerPunch also leaned into the pouches to help drive sales online and improve the its ecommerce margins.

“It is very expensive to ship pickle jars across the country, but these pickle pouches are a perfect solution. They are light weight, they are easy to transport and they are easy for consumers to take with them wherever they are going,”​ he said.

The snack packs currently are available in three flavors, including 3-pepper fire, bread ‘n butter, and classic dill, and a combination pack. But Advani says he hopes to add new flavors, including sweet and spicy options.

“There really has been a lot of appetite for sweet pickles. We want to provide the opportunity to give consumers more of what they want. But we also want to take the sweet and spicy flavor profiles to different types of pickled products,”​ beyond cucumbers, such as jalapenos, Advani said.

In addition, the company is exploring more international flavors, creating a line of whole cucumber pickles and even candied jalapenos, he added.

Pickle juice launch brings SuckerPunch to the beverage aisle

SuckerPunch also recently expanded into the beverage category with the launch eight months ago of its pickle juice in 12- and 32-ounce containers.

“Pickle juice is such an interesting product and we don’t see a lot of pickle juice in stores, and we understand why because of concerns about how quickly it will move, but on ecommerce pickle juice has been exciting for us”​ and has quickly risen to become the brand’s best-selling item on Amazon with very little marketing support, Advani said.

He explained that “consumers who are pickle juice zealots are using it for hangover relief, and as a post workout drink or after running to replenish their electrolytes.”​ With this consumer-base in mind, Advani said SuckerPunch added magnesium, potassium, and vitamins C and E for better electrolyte replacement.

He also notes that the product has potential in fitness centers, college book sores and c-stores as the economy reopens, which would allow the brand to be available in more places than it currently is sold for a very different occasion.

Between the new products and new look, Advani said SuckerPunch is primed for a bright future even as it recognizes and holds on to its roots.

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