Target Lands Soup Exclusive

Discussion
Sep 04, 2012

With its steady rollout of limited edition collections from Missoni, Liberty of London and others, Target has regularly gained wide media attention and added to its fashion cred. With an exclusive Campbell’s soup can line celebrating Andy Warhol, it appears to be extending the buzz to the grocery side.

On Sunday, Target began selling limited edition cans of Campbell’s condensed tomato soup bearing labels reminiscent of Andy Warhol’s famous paintings.

The promotion marks the 50th anniversary of the exhibition where Mr. Warhol first showed 32 Campbell’s Soup Cans at LA’s Ferus Gallery in 1962. Each of the thirty-two canvases depicted a variety of soup displayed side-by-side as on a grocery store shelf. The paintings helped launch Warhol’s career and ushered in Pop Art as a major art movement in the U.S.

The new cans come in four color schemes mimicking Warhol’s pop art style, along with famed Warhol quotes, such as, "In the future, everybody will be world-famous for 15 minutes" as well as, "But I always say one’s company, two’s a crowd, and three’s a party."

The 1.2 million limited-edition cans cost 75 cents each at retail. Already on eBay, however, sets of four are on auction for between $6.99 and $25.00.

The eBay auction mirrors the attention and reseller action caused by Target’s other limited edition introductions. The biggest was the October 2011 launch of a limited edition collection from Missoni. At the time, the high volume of online orders for Missoni merchandise crashed Target’s website. On eBay, Missoni for Target dresses were being resold on for $100 to $200 more than the retail price. According to the New York Times, a Missoni for Target multi-colored bicycle retailed for $399.99 and sold on eBay for $1,279.95.

With "limited edition" perhaps stretching the limit at 1.2 million cans and RetailWire finding an ample assortment of cans in a visit early Sunday evening at Target’s store in East Hanover, NJ, the auction prices on eBay appeared artificially high in the collection’s early launch days. But like Target’s fashion launches, the Warhol collection has gained extensive media coverage.

For Campbell Soup, the launch plays to both its roots and its recent push to reach Millennials. Facing years of sluggish sales, the 140-year-old brand has been acknowledging that younger generations aren’t as fond of soup as their parent Boomers and even less so than their grandparents. To appeal to Millennials, a Go Soup premium line was recently launched that comes in pouches for convenience and exotic flavors such as Moroccan Style Chicken with Chickpeas.

Limited edition launches are fairly common in the grocery channel, especially in cereals and sodas, but exclusive arrangements are rare and most appear smaller than the Target/Campbell’s launch.

Is there a greater opportunity for exclusive, limited edition deals on the grocery side? Can limited edition launches on the grocery side ever match the appeal of those on the fashion side? Are limited edition launches particularly appealing to the Millennial generation?

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23 Comments on "Target Lands Soup Exclusive"


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Phil Rubin
Guest
Phil Rubin
9 years 8 months ago

This is a great example of how to engage customers as a merchant through merchandising (what a concept, right?) rather than markdowns and competing on price. This concept isn’t reserved exclusively for CPG companies and grocers either…it applies across many industries and goes well beyond retail.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

Hmmm … I can see it all now … thousands of soup cans bearing Andy Warhol’s grim visage, accented by yellowing labels stuffed into attics, basements and garages as a hedge against the future …

Will they sell? Of course!

Are limited edition grocery items collectible? Just ask all those folks with cans of Billy Beer waiting to explode in their closets.

Will collectible groceries ever become as popular as high fashion items? Only in some demented marketers hallucinations — BUT — that isn’t to say you won’t be able to sell a lot of them in the meantime. After all as H. L. Mencken once noted, “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.”

Are Millennials any more prone to bad taste then their forebears? Nah, some things are eternal … even if perishable products shouldn’t be!

Mark Heckman
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

I do not purport to be an expert on Millennials, but would think they would be less likely, not more, to be attracted to “collectables” of limited editions. But I do see these exclusive limited edition programs being a great fit for Target. Target does a great job with branding throughout the store and relies more on brand equity and visual impact of that branding than any of their competitors, in my view.

Going forward, big, national retailers may be a magnet for these types of special programs, whether it be nostalgia or new packaging. There is an allure of “limited edition” that plays to the retailers quest of having something that the other guy does not, which is becoming more rare in retailing. Perhaps it’s time for Aqua Velva or Brylcreme to make comebacks!

Steve Montgomery
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

Okay, like Tom Hanks in “Big,” I don’t get it. I understand the value of limited editions when the item is something people can use, but other than the value to collectors, I don’t see a value in limited addition soup cans. The can is simply a container to hold and protect the soup until a customer is ready to eat it.

Will people actually use the unopened cans as decorations? I’m a guy and frankly can’t see using soup cans, albeit interesting looking ones, for anything beyond their functional purpose.

Dr. Stephen Needel
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

I have better questions. Does anybody really think Andy Warhol will appeal to Millennials? Does anybody want to guess at the percentage of Millennials who even know who Andy Warhol is?

Dick Seesel
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

It’s hard to imagine anything more prosaic than a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup, which is what made the Warhol paintings so iconic in the first place. Hats off to Target and Campbell for infusing some fun and “design” (Target’s buzzword) into a boring category. Campbell’s in particular will benefit from the halo effect of this promotion, even if a lot of buyers turn out to be “collectors” instead of consumers.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

People will pay a premium for engaging packaging. Just look at those retro glass bottles of Coke that are popping up all over, and the Wheaties boxes with vintage photos of Bruce Jenner (pre-plastic surgery.) I’ll predict a speedy sellout of these soup cans, and other new entries as well.

Ian Percy
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

We need to look at exactly what is arousing energy among Target shoppers. I suggest it’s something deeper and bigger than an Andy Warhol soup can or a limited edition dress.

Here it is: SHOPPERS ARE BORED! We are a creative system. We want to be entertained. We want things interesting. So much retail today is akin to being assigned a bland diet while in the hospital. A blanched piece of chicken, white rice, bleached beans, no flavor.

Target gives us something to look at and consider. It’s making life interesting…and oh do we need that right now.

Anne Howe
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

It’s a lot more fun to shop for a “limited collection” of anything than it is to see the same old stuff over and over on the shelf. Target and Campbell both win on this one, in my shopper marketing opinion.

The labels themselves disrupt the lazy brain in the soup aisle and “make you look” a little closer. Decorate the kitchen with them? Nope. But converse about Campbell with the words novel and even clever in the dialogue? Yep. And that alone is worth the price of the label run for a classic brand in a declining category.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

Give Target credit for superior marketing on this one. Other than that, I don’t see the value of a can of tomato soup with Andy Warhol’s picture, etc. I would want to use the tomato soup, not store it away. That said, it is still a good marketing plan and Target can sure benefit by it.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

Hasn’t Wheaties been doing this for a century or more? Give me limited edition Haagen Dazs or Pop-Tarts or Absolute Vodka. Even give me limited edition flavors of Campbell’s Soup, but packaging? This is food, not fashion. To Millennials, I suspect this is laughable.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
Carol Spieckerman
9 years 8 months ago

The soup category has been sliding for a while now and this is a great way to draw the eye to what has otherwise been a boring and predictable national brand presentation flanked by private brand good-enough alternatives.

Far more Millennial-friendly might be the “create your own screen test” exhibit that is running at the Warhol museum in Pittsburg and on an accompanying website. Warhol’s screen tests were one of the more memorable exhibits I caught last year — amazing — and during my visits, MOMA’s galleries were filled with Millennials who couldn’t take their eyes off of the works. The keepers of all things Warhol have obviously been busy and the multi-touch-point buzz benefits every effort.

Gordon Arnold
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

People looking at a can of soup and/or likewise food stores waste little time admiring the lipstick, or nip and tucked containers. The price per unit is always the driving force. A typical can of soup needs an equal amount of water for optimum nutrition and flavor. Why not invent a smaller lighter can that will need a 1:2 ratio of water for optimum flavor and nutritional effect? This would reduce delivery costs from the $4.++/gallon of transportation fuels now being felt all the way to the dinner table. This is the true green effect consumers are looking for today.

Brian Numainville
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

While I think that from time to time it is interesting to see a “retro” product back on the shelf, I doubt this will have much of an impact, especially among Millennials. It does make things a bit more interesting when you see a unique treatment of something as utilitarian as a can of soup….

Zel Bianco
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

Limited edition launches can certainly increase a grocery product’s appeal and image to shoppers. We have seen this with snacks and cereal using retro packaging. Last year when Target and Missoni launched their limited edition, the pop-up shop in Midtown Manhattan closed very quickly as all the stock sold out. I can’t see this happening with groceries, but I could be wrong.

Camille P. Schuster, Ph.D.
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

This is a great example of what can happen as a result of good collaborative partnership. This is a specific program for Campbell Soup Co. that taps into the image of Target and meets the need of Target consumers. Great idea!

Ben Ball
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

This one doesn’t even warrant a “nice try.”

Unless Campbell is going to move to a series of novelty cans that may garner some actual collector’s interest/value — I just can’t see anyone caring what is on the outside of their soup can. Except that Target may care that they have one Walmart doesn’t!

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
9 years 8 months ago

Campbell’s put some thought into this, especially with the addition of their “15 minutes of fame” app that enables folks to turn their photo into a “Warhol-inspired work of art.” Very cool. They’re also providing some Warhol history, including the fact that the artist had Campbell’s Tomato Soup for lunch every day for twenty years. Hope he had a grilled cheese sandwich with that. Campbell’s continues to sponsor the Andy Warhol Scholarship Fund at the NY Art Academy. This comprehensive effort is not just about pop art labels in limited distribution — there’s much more to it.

If a brand is interested in launching a limited edition of their product, they’d be wise to follow Campbell’s example and go well beyond just label art in their planning.

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
9 years 8 months ago

No, this is absurd. I cannot believe that any thinking retailer would ever fall for this kind of marketing mumbo jumbo! This is one of the very reasons that so many groceries are viewed so poorly by the public. Now I bet that Target will discontinue regular Tomato Soup when the Warhol becomes available? Give us a break, you are a grocery retailer, not an art critic. The Millennial Generation would like to have a job, no one cares about a limited edition can of soup!

John Karolefski
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

Anytime a major chain and a major CPG can collaborate on a limited edition grocery item, it’s better than the same old stuff. Such promotions interest some consumers and add excitement to the tired center store.

Kudos to all.

Harvey Briggs
Guest
Harvey Briggs
9 years 8 months ago

There’s brilliance here on Campbell’s part. Creating talk value for a product that hasn’t changed in decades is not easy to do. Yet, by honoring Mr. Warhol’s work on the 50th anniversary of that work, they’re doing just that. It’s only a short-term win though. Yes, they’ve already generated millions of dollars in earned media and social buzz thanks to this packaging stunt, but this won’t help them connect with As for reconnecting with Millenials. Most couldn’t tell you who Andy Warhol was or why he was important.

Tim Cote
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

Great, another example of an exclusive collaboration that one large that company will offer to another large company that the smaller retailer can not share in.

One wonders why slotting and the next bucket of funding are important? Because if you are not a national chain these are the only “tools” of collaboration that a larger CPG company will offer to to you.

Justin Time
Guest
9 years 8 months ago

Target has done this before. Great A&P did so in 2009. I think there is a profitability motive for supermarkets to seek out these opportunities. They are unique items/events that have the drawing power to pull customers to their stores.

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