NORTHFIELD, IL — Kraft Foodservice has launched Oreo Cakesters, a new snack cake that brings the brand recognition of America’s leading sandwich cookie to vending’s higher-price pastry spirals. A field test conducted in New England over the summer validated the view that a premium-quality branded snack cake offering high perceived value will generate rapid turns at a $1.25 vend price.
Formed by sandwiching a sweet vanilla creme layer between two two round, soft chocolate cakes, Cakesters visually resemble their celebrated cookie counterparts. They’re made with premium ingredients and supplied in three-packs; shelf life is six months.
Supported by a large-scale television and print advertising campaign, Oreo Cakesters were launched in retail during the summer and began shipping to the vending trade in October.
Boston-area operators Laura and Jim Kelly of P&J’s Vending (Hopkinton, MA) participated in a 10-week trial of Oreo Cakesters last summer to assist Kraft in ascertaining the snack cake’s potential in vending at a $1.25 vend price.
“As soon as we saw Cakesters, right out of the box, everyone from our office to our warehouse to our drivers was excited about it,” Kelly told VT. “Our whole team tried it – men and women across generations – and literally all ages and genders liked it. We knew, before it went out the door, its wide appeal in house, its great value with three snack cakes in the pack and the power of its very attractive, fluorescent blue package.”
Adding to P&J’s confidence in the product’s appeal to its customers was the regional popularity of “whoopie pies,” a traditional bakery item with a strong following in New England. Sometimes called a “black-and-white,” it’s common in supermarket bakeries throughout the Boston area, and often is served for dessert.
“We knew Oreo Cakesters had the profile that people in our market like, and we’d proven that by our in-house taste test,” Kelly explained. “Adding to our hunch that we had a winner was the Oreo name.
“Branding is a very important factor in vending,” she continued. “At the trade shows, we often see good products with a regional name, and we won’t get them because the brand is not there. I don’t think we would have sold Cakesters, especially at $1.25, in such huge volume if brand familiarity was not part of the package. When consumers see value backed by a strong brand, they are willing to pay the higher price – we’ve seen it with other products, and we certainly saw it with Oreo Cakesters.”
Cakesters’ popularity was immediately evident in the field from the rapid spiral turns logged by the Cantaloupe Seed remote monitoring system installed by P&J’s last year (see VT, Sept. 2006). Notwithstanding the tight controls the company maintains over product movement from its warehouse to its trucks and machines with Seed, Kelly said her warehouse staff had to hide the Cakesters – drivers were so eager to get them into their machines that she felt the need to make sure that management knew where the product was at all times. “Sometimes it’s hard to get our drivers excited about a product; it’s quite a testimonial when our drivers say it’s a winner and get so excited,” said Kelly, adding that one driver said he was thankful that route orders were pre-packed, because he was afraid he’d otherwise yield to the temptation of eating the Cakesters on his truck before they reached their destinations.
“Once the product made it out the door, it was selling vigorously…flying! Kraft wanted 10 weeks of data for the test and, seven weeks in, we were getting low on stock; we were afraid we were in danger of not having enough products to get through the test,” the operator recalled. “Every Monday for the final three weeks we checked to see how many were in the warehouse and the field. Luckily, we had just enough product to make it through the trial.”
After the test concluded in August, Kelly said the drivers were disappointed to find the product was no longer present when they picked up their orders.
“My question to Kraft was ‘When can I buy Cakesters?’” she recalled. “Needless to say, when it became available again it went back into our machines, and it’s continuing its success.”
Kraft Foodservice observed that Oreo is the nation’s leading brand of sandwich cookie, and that the snack cake segment is one of the fastest-growing baked good categories in vending.
Information on Cakesters and other products for foodservice and vending may be found at kraftfoodservice.com.