Brand Strategy Heinz Marketing

It Duzn’t Haz to Be Heinz: what the cost of living crisis told me about brand loyalty

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By Elliott Starr, Creative

June 27, 2023 | 7 min read

Elliott Starr, an experienced creative director at, well nowhere currently, like many has seen the cost of living crisis really challenge him. He explains now where his condiment loyalties really lie.

Heinz

Heinz was many’s first choice, is it still?

I've been a Heinz fanboy since I was a wee nipper. I grew up in a Heinz household. The beans were Heinz, the ketchup was Heinz, and anything that could have been Heinz, was Heinz. I didn’t question it. But I did consume it. Lordy, lordy, did I ever.

I bought into my parent’s vine-ripened cult hook, line, and sinker. I had the ketchup with everything. Chips. Fish. Chips and fish. BirdsEye fish fingers arranged into an intricate finger formation. Eggs. Pizza. In sandwiches. With buttered toast. Yes, even with buttered toast. I know, disgraceful.

But now, I speak for many, Heinz, when I say: you have pushed a loving man too far. Far too far!

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The price of your intoxicating tomato-vinegar-sugar sauce has crept up in recent years. Well not so much crept up but shot up. For some time now, while I needed my fix, I still bought it. But I muttered my displeasure at the price beneath devoted breath.

It's funny how a cost of living crisis takes hold of something like brand loyalty. I was about as loyal as they come. That loyalty has been pecked to death by ducks, until eventually, my eyes floated over to the Hellmann’s Tomato Ketchup price tag for the first time. And then I did what a normal human being does. Some simple math.

You were sitting there, £3.40 for 460g. That’s 0.74p per gram. But then there was Hellmann’s. Shy. Coy. Hellmann’s was flirtatiously looking at me. And I winked back. It felt bad. It felt naughty. You and me, Heinz, we’d been through so much. We’d shared so many memories together. We had something.

But Hellmann’s was £1.85 for 473g. (And only £1.00 with a club card.) That’s 0.39p and 0.21p per gram, respectively. It didn’t add up. Assuming your ingredients are at least similar to Hellmann’s, I have to put your price point down to one factor - you’re suffering the cost of living crisis, too.

From what I read online, you’re still made in the UK, where energy has become much more expensive than in the countries where Hellmann’s manufacture.

That’s tricky. Tricky, indeed. You’d hope that the decades of brand loyalty you’ve built would see me justify your price. But when it's costing me and everyone else in the UK £7,000 to boil the kettle, that’s a big ask.

I, like many others, can be convinced by branded arguments like ‘Reassuringly Expensive’. But ‘Reassuringly Almost Four Times the Price’ is where I hopped off the bus. That dog doesn’t hunt, no matter how much I’d like it to.

This leads me to write the most difficult part of this letter, Heinz. I have a confession to make.

I bought Hellmann’s. I bought it and I liked it. I really liked it. And as ashamed as I am, to have been unfaithful, I will be doing it again, and I will really like it next time, too.

I’ve long loved you, your delicious products, and your wonderful advertising. And, yes, some part of me will always love you, and will never fully move on. You’ll probably visit me in my dreams, and I’ll like that, I really will.

But in the waking world, brand loyalty, and charmingly observed advertising can only do so much.

I want to love you. But loving you hurts too much. And it’s here we find the moral of our story: Brand loyalty will always be a victim of price. For me, Beanz Doesn’t Mean Heinz anymore.

Starr is currently available for hire. Snap him up quick.

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