In a world where the Unicorn Frappuccino has already hit the shelves, food and beverage manufacturers have to start thinking even more outside the box to stand out. Recently, these manufacturers are turning away from food items and towards promotional items to appeal to consumers and keep their brands relevant. Companies from McDonald’s and KFC to Hidden Valley and Coca-Cola are all creating items that have little to do with the typical eats they are known for.
In September, Taco Bell, announced that they were teaming up with retailer Forever 21 to create a fashion line that includes hoodies, graphic tees, bodysuits, and more. These “fashionable” clothing items range in price from $12.90 to $29.90 and are geared towards the millennials and Gen Z generations. Taco Bell’s clothing line hit Forever 21 stores across the country on October 11, 2017. Another fast food brand getting involved in the fashion scene is Pizza Hut. Their brand created “Pizza Hut Yoga Pants” whose patterns feature triangles that look a lot like pizza slices. These retail at $49.99.
Clothing is not the only way brands are tapping into the retail space. Whataburger, a Texas-based burger chain, recently came out with “whatapeiceofjewelry,” a silver charm branded with the multi-W-ed logo of the chain itself. This charm goes for $60.00 a piece, which is not even the most expensive of the food brand jewelry. The Cheetos brand launched a $20,000 orange sapphire and black and white diamond earrings and ring set that was actually sold! Now that’s some series snack dedication.
Other companies tie their unique items more closely to their signature products. Hidden Valley, for example, created the ranch fountain. The ranch fountain is the savory relative to the sweet chocolate fountain and has already sold out at $89.00 per piece. They also created Hidden Valley bottle coozies for those who are concerned about keeping their dressing as cold as possible at the dinner table.
Fun products like these often get criticized or made fun of but the cynics are heavily outweighed by the fans. As the CEO of consulting firm BrandTwist said, “Brands are really fighting for mindshare, and they don’t want to just be seen as a very functional brand that helps you satiate your hunger. They want to be a part of your lifestyle too.” As long as companies like Taco Bell and Hidden Valley don’t spread themselves too thin or weaken their core product, creating lifestyle components for their brand seem to be working quite well.