“Their palates are much different from ours,” the Campbell’s spokesman Anthony Sanzio, 45, told the Toronto Star on Tuesday. “Much more inquisitive and adventurous.”
That’s combined with an ethos that sees the iconic red-and-white Campbell’s soup can as more appealing hung on the wall as a Warhol print than in the cupboard.
“As we were designing these soups and recipes, we went to hipster hubs like Austin, Texas and Portland, Ore.,” said Sanzio.
“We went out to dinner with Millennials, we went drinking with them. We wanted to see how they eat and what they eat.
“When they go out to eat, they want to eat Indian, they want to eat Thai.”
But when they go home, he said, “they are not a generation that has developed cooking skills. They have a hard time replicating what they eat when they go out.”
“We saw an opportunity there.”
What Campbell’s also saw was a generation that equated freshness with pouches, not cans, and heating with microwaves, not stovetops.
The six-variety line of Campbell’s Go soups launched in August in the United States with groovy graphics, a fast-cut interactive website and online’s favourite feature — felines — as marketing touchstones.
No Cream of Tomato here, either. The flavours included Golden Lentil with Madras Curry, Cream Red Pepper with Smoked Gouda and Moroccan Style Chicken. Quinoa, chorizo, chickpeas and shiitake mushrooms are ingredients.
Gone, too, is any attempt to turn soup into anything other than soup.
“You could probably pour it over rice or noodles, but these are not cooking soups. These are meant to sit down and eat. This is not Cream of Mushroom. There are no recipes for casseroles.”
Given the marketing, the packaging, the new varieties and the approach, said Sanzio, “It’s fair to say, yes, this is the biggest change we’ve had in 20 years.”
Not coincidentally, Campbell’s last August brought in a new chief executive officer, Denise Morrison, who is “intensely focused on consumers,” said Sanzio. She’s not a Millennial, though. Morrison is 58.
Campbell’s share of the U.S. soup market fell to 49 per cent in 2010 from 52.6 per cent in 2006, according to Bloomberg.
Canada might get a taste of the new line in the “next wave” of the launch after the numbers are out in November, he said.
Less than a month after their launch, Go Soups have been criticized for still having a heavy sodium hit: 780 milligrams per 240 millilitre serving.
Said Sanzio in response, “Millennials are all about taste and freshness. They want the taste.”
And for boomers, there is still low-sodium Healthy Request Chicken with Rice.