The creators behind Oreo's limited-edition flavors and collaborations are always busy churning out new ideas — and for good reason.
In a new interview with The New York Times, Justin Parnell, the senior director of the Oreo brand, revealed that the reason the company is continuously rolling out new flavors is to actually draw consumers back to its plain, original cookie.
The cookie company, which hit the market in 1912 as a Nabisco product, has released 65 new flavors since 2012, the latest being a collaboration with Lady Gaga inspired by her 2020 album Chromatica.
Beginning with the Birthday Cake Oreo in 2012, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the classic cookie, the brand has since created Blueberry Pie Oreos, Maple Creme Oreos, Peeps Oreos, S'mores Oreos, Mystery Oreos (which were churro flavored), Crispy Tiramisù Oreos and more.
"When we do it well, it drives our classic Oreo cookie, as well as the sales of the limited edition," Parnell said of releasing limited-edition flavors.
He explained that when going to the store, many consumers will "pick up that classic Oreo variety that they love, whether it’s the original or Golden or Double Stuf, in addition to the limited edition."
According to Nielsen, sales of the flavored, novelty and seasonal Oreos were up by 12 percent over the last three years. Even more, sales of the original cookie were up almost 22 percent.
Parnell also shed light on how Oreo's flavor innovation team comes up with all its new ideas.
"Their job is really how do we continue to excite our fans and drive growth through flavor innovation," he told the Times.
The team, which is made up of marketers, product developers, researchers and food scientists, will come together for an "Oreo ideation period" where they narrow down their flavor options from about 50 to a dozen.
The group also works with chefs to "understand what is trending" when developing a new flavor. According to Parnell, new flavors are usually created 18 to 24 months before they hit shelves.
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