Innovation or Outavation?

From the Brand Historian’s Timeline: 1974

The 1970s get a bad press: brown wallpaper, bad haircuts and economic hardship but such a milieu made fertile ground for innovation, especially in consumer products, and many of these featured taking a product category and then either adding something or taking something away. In 1974, Baileys Irish Cream was whisked up by combining two ingredients (cream and whiskey) plentifully available to Grand Metropolitan who owned a dairy and distilleries, crafting a brand skin that made the product look like it had been around for years, and creating a whole new category of drinks. And the real commercial coup de main was to charge full liqueur prices for a bottle that contained significantly less alcohol, thus creating a whopping margin for brand building and other stuff. Baileys became a billion schooner phenomenon and invented a whole new series of drinking occasions, including one for an aunt of mine who liked to enjoy a glass while doing the ironing.

Also launched in the UK this year was Homepride Cook-in-Sauces, the first of a wave of new culinary products which helped the consumer to bring the adventurous flavours of (what was called at the time) ethnic foods to the dinner table. A range of recipe sauces in cans including Red Wine, Curry, Barbecue and Chilli Con Carne were launched using Fred, a reassuring little flour grader as the QC supervisor on pack and in the ad. They were a smash and only because the consumer had completely rejected Homepride’s first attempt, which had actually combined recipe sauces with pieces of meat. Consumers said, “Keep your chicken and beef, Spillers, give us the sauces, and we’ll do the rest.” Homepride CIS was a great marketing success and it reminds us to always focus on what the consumer values most. In an age before Deliveroo and Uber Eats, it was brands like Homepride which made dinner convenient, interesting and tasty and perhaps even brightened up the wallpaper.

(A small personal footnote: fans of Bluff Your Way in Marketing, co-written with Dr Graham Harding and still available on Amazon, will know that The Brand Historian’s Mastermind specialist subject would be the history of the cooking sauces market, 1974 to the present day…)

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