Arnott’s has denied the decision to bring back the original Pizza flavoured Shapes to the supermarket shelves is a carefully crafted stunt to keep the brand in the headlines.
The biscuit company announced this morning that it was reverting to the original Pizza Shapes flavour in the face of overwhelming consumer demand after it grabbed headlines earlier this year when it announced it was relaunching the brand with more intense flavours.
The move grabbed headlines around the nation as debate raged about whether the original or the new flavours were better.
While many consumer claimed on social media channels that the would not embrace the new, more intense flavours, it is understood that Arnott’s has seen a significant sales spike in the range since the launch.
A spokesperson for Arnott’s denied that the decision to revert to the original Pizza flavour was a stunt that had been planned to keep the debate about the flavour changes running.
“It’s not a stunt, it was never a stunt,” the spokesperson said.
She said that the brand was simply responding to demand, with many consumers, mothers in particular, saying they preferred the original Pizza Shapes.
Arnott’s relaunched the range in May, intensifying the flavours in response to research that suggested consumers wanted a bigger hit from the snack as Australians were exposed to more exotic cuisines and flavours earlier in their lives.
Marketing director of savoury, Rowena Ditzell, said at the launch that the new flavours had been extensively tested.
“Arnott’s has never embarked on a project with this level of research and testing before,” Ditzell said.
“We have done extensive qualitative and quantitative research, including sensory testing and alienation testing with heavy Shapes consumers. We have spoken to over 11,000 Australians in the development of new and improved Shapes.”
It hedged its bets, retaining the original Chicken Crimpy, BBQ Original and Savoury flavour, but said that it was committed to retaining the new flavour profiles for the brand.
The company said it had been “humbled” by the backlash to the flavour changes and even beefed up its social media and call centre teams to deal with enquiries
The company said that the decision to return to the original Pizza flavour was in the face of overwhelming demand from consumers.
Ditzell told Mumbrella Arnott’s had been monitoring sales of the new flavours carefully and more than 2000 people had contacted the company directly calling for the original pizza flavour to be returned.
“Approximately six weeks ago, we felt we had enough data to make a decision to return Original Pizza. It took six weeks to reinstall the Original biscuit line, order ingredients and update packaging etcetera,” Ditzell said.
“As you can imagine, to achieve the new recipes, whereby the flavour is baked into the biscuit and sprinkled on both sides, millions of dollars have been invested in new equipment at our bakeries, R&D, sensory and flavour development work as well as an extensive marketing campaign – it would be a very elaborate stunt.”
Ditzell said sales of the new flavours had been “mixed”.
“We sell 74 million boxes of Shapes a year, while we have seen small declines on some flavours, most Aussies are happily buying the new Shapes range. By having both new and Original Barbecue flavours available side-by-side, we have seen sales grow more than 24%. We hope there is similar appetite for both new and Original Pizza.”