The potato category has been dominated by unbranded products for decades, and innovation was needed to launch premium branded potatoes. The top 10 selling potatoes at Countdown before Lotatoes were either unbranded or from the market leader Wilcox brand.
When devising Lotatoes, T&G also wanted to retain or win-back the increasingly health-conscious consumers who often substitute potatoes for lower carb alternatives like rice, quinoa, kumara and couscous.
Not known for its marketing prowess, and with a very limited marketing budget, T&G’s tiny marketing team had a real challenge on their hands. Knowing they couldn’t play it safe, they took a risk on an unconventional product name and worked from there. A name such as Lotatoes may not seem adventurous in other sectors, but this product came from a world of humble growers and traders.
To win customers, T&G undertook a global search for innovative breeds of potato that o ered functional nutritional bene ts. A lower carb, lower calories potato was sourced and the vision was set but it took ve years of testing before Lotatoes were on supermarket shelves.
Feedback from retailers who had experienced previous unsuccessful competitor potato launches was that although the wish for healthier foods was strong, the lower carb potato story didn’t resonate with consumers. For Lotatoes to work, the brand story needed to be clear, strong and authentic.
To disrupt consumer behaviour, the brand story had to be communicated in a way that captured the imagination of household shoppers. The name of the product was important. Low carb or calorie products tend to be named with variations of ‘lite’, and T&G knew such a route would likely have lacklustre results.
The new product was first announced through PR channels, and packs were created and distributed to TV, radio, print and social influencers with the aim of generating conversation about how unique the Lotatoes are. The packs were formed to highlight to consumers that Lotatoes are a naturally bred product with no GMO.
The PR was supported by digital display ads and in store point-of-sale. Online, Lotatoes were featured in Countdown ads to support the retailer sell-through product. The nal piece of the campaign was an in-store presence created through bold packaging and point-of-sale. The design was simple, and with the understated brown paper style, the focus was on highlighting the brand name in big, bold letters with similarly simple visuals to demonstrate a serving suggestion.
The provocative name drove the marketing success, and the tiny marketing spend delivered $280,000 value, more than smashing the team’s goal that the modest spend would achieve media value of $75,000. The name piqued interest which generated strong coverage from well-targeted media. The Lotatoes were given coverage from high-pro le media outlets including Breakfast, 3 News, The Project, 7 Days and various radio stations and newspapers.
Lotatoes posts on the T&G Facebook page were also the most popular and frequently shared since the page was launched in 2012, reaching more than 14,000 users. After launching, the Lotatoes quickly became the number three selling branded potato in Countdown nationwide, as well as the ninth best-selling potato overall at Countdown. Within four weeks of launching, Lotatoes captured four percent value share of the category.
And the consumers have been responding well to the new take on the much-loved potato. Since launching, more than 2 million Lotatoes have been enjoyed by New Zealanders. The response to Lotatoes went so positively that the growers were unable to keep up with demand and the product was temporarily out of stock. Hot on the heels of the Lotatoes success, T&G launched the first of several planned line extensions with Baby Lotatoes.