Allied Bakeries claims its 16-year-old Kingsmill brand is already one of the best-known brands in the UK, but now management feel it is time to "take it on to the next level".

Hence it has put a £14 million marketing budget behind a relaunch (BB, 16 February, pg 4), urging consumers to "love bread, love Kingsmill", with new packaging and recipes being introduced on all Kingsmill products.

As marketing director Jon Wilson says: "The market has moved on and we need to reinvent Kingsmill. It lacked a clear identity; we wanted to warm up the brand and give it more emotional appeal."

The strategy is to add value and grow the bread category with value-added and innovative products. This is not about getting supermarkets to swap from one plant bread supplier to another, it is about growing the whole bakery category, Allied insists.

First there was a "fundamental reappraisal" of the brand to establish exactly what consumers and Allied Bakeries’ supermarket customers wanted from it. In the nine months’ run-up to the relaunch, Allied has undertaken extensive consumer research - first of all to find out exactly what consu-mers make of the UK’s biggest bread brands.

mapping exercise

A mapping exercise was conduc-ted, which indicated that the Hovis and Warburtons brands both shared a similar position in the marketplace and were both closely associated in consumers’ minds with tradition and "nurture". At the time, Kingsmill stood in the middle ground among a number of other "need states" looked at - including sharing and enjoyment. The plan is to differentiate Kingsmill and make it engaging, says Wilson, connecting it more with "enjoyment" in consumers’ minds.

To do that, the focus has been on improving the pleasure of eating the Kingsmill brand, firstly by improving recipes. Following the relaunch, loaves will be bigger and softer than before, with no artificial preservatives used and reduced salt levels. Recipes have been reformulated to include 15% high-quality Canadian and German wheat, where, previously, a lower-grade flour had been used. The new bread will be baked in new bigger tins - all the tins have been replaced at Allied’s bakeries across the UK - part of the £25m being invested in infrastructure to support the marketing activity.

Kingsmill is now being relaunched as a family-orientated, lively brand, celebrating togetherness, fun and family values. The various brands in the Kingsmill range have been divided into three platforms: everyday family ("great choice for everyone" such as medium white sliced); extra goodness for the family (healthier eating, for example Head Start with Omega 3); and premium "for me" loaves (the new Kingsmill Good as Gold premium batch range).

A nationwide TV advertising campaign, which will run all year, celebrates real life and real families, giving the brand an emotional appeal, which was felt to be lacking in the past. The new Kingsmill packaging includes a "golden corner", reminiscent of a field of wheat. A sunburst replaces the Kingsmill crown and a brighter logo is used. Flags with bread type and slice thickness go on the right of the packaging. And two out of three specific benefits are flagged with tick boxes on the left side of the packaging, which will also feature Guideline Daily Amounts for the first time, following the Tesco system and giving percentages per single slice.

Further new product development is in the pipeline, Wilson says, and Allied is also preparing to relaunch its Burgen and Allinson brands in the next few months.

Allied chief executive Brian Robinson says: "Innovation is the key. We have a rather large pipeline and we are here to change the game. The vision is to lead the category as dynamic brand innovators." n


=== Project 180 ===

The Kingsmill relaunch comes as part of ’Project 180’, the three-year company turnaround plan put in place by Australian Brian Robinson (pictured), who joined Allied Bakeries as CEO in November 2005. The plan is to "turn the business on its head", he said - an 180-degree turn.

Allied Bakeries is investing around £25m over two years in upgrading infrastructure across its UK bakeries.