July 1, 2013
When Hostess Twinkies return to store shelves next month, courtesy of a $410 million fire-sale buyout by Apollo Global Management, the sponge cakes will make fans happy, but the legendary brand’s long-term survival is far from certain. As AdWeek.com reports, the snack often considered the epitome of junk food may be a hard sell for younger, more health-conscious buyers.
“The biggest obstacle is that Twinkies are not exactly a good candidate for a millennial consumer,” says Stuart Leslie, president of 4sight, a brand-design firm. “Meanwhile, their nostalgic consumer demographic is getting old and health conscious.”
For now, Twinkies have a devoted following. Hostess reportedly sold 500 million of the cakes annually before labor troubles led the company into bankruptcy last November. The reintroduced product will retain the same box design, cake recipe and $3.99 price, but advertising agency Bernstein-Rein will try a bolder and more contemporary voice, employed across an array of digital, social media, guerrilla and traditional advertising efforts. New varieties of Twinkies — low-sugar, gluten-free, low-sodium — reportedly are under consideration.
Buddy Ketchner, president of brand-strategy firm Sterling-Rice Group, cautions that “Twinkies fans … will be expecting the original and will be extra sensitive to any change to the product.” — Greg Beaubien