Big brands still want your food dollars

An article on New York notes the trend toward playing up the value of packaged foods by big companies like Kraft and Nestle. Stuart Elliott's article cites the May 18 issue of People magazine where ads for Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh meats, Lean Cuisine frozen foods, Chips Ahoy cookies and Capri Sun juice drinks all stress the economy of their products.

For instance, an advertisement for Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh meats states that it tastes "deli fresh without the deli counter price." And Chips Ahoy cookies and Capri Sun juice drinks partner for an ad that declares you can serve two snacks "for about a dollar."

Kraft foods also has value ads for boxed dinners like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Velveeta Shells and Cheese that revolve around the theme "Save. Share. Smile"; Kool-aid ads touting "More smiles per gallon;" and Kraft Singles cheese slices, which describes how a Singles cheeseburger can be made for less than a dollar.

I've noticed this trend from advertisers on TV. Commercials featuring the cartoon Helping Hand working an adding machine at the kitchen table with a woman, want you to realize that you can feed a family of four for under $10 if you center your meal around Hamburger Helper.

The article goes on to say that marketers are looking to capitalize on the fact that people are eating out less as a result of the recession. However, consumers are trying to save money by switching from brand names to cheaper private labels, so advertisers must make convincing arguments about the value of their products.

French's condiments will soon begin a campaign promoting larger packages to be sold at lower prices. So, for instance, a 20-ounce bottle of French's Classic Yellow mustard will cost less than a 14-ounce bottle. Sounds good to me. Research shows that French's is the first choice of consumers but they want to be sure they're getting good value for the money. Look for the new value ads proclaiming, "Happy starts here."

An ad campaign by Del Monte Foods for its canned vegetables and fruit suggests that you can "stretch" you food dollars by depicting elongated ears of corn and pea pods.

And here's good news for snack-aholics everywhere. Frito-Lay will be joining the value-added trend by putting 20% more product in selected bags of Cheetos, Fritos and Tostitos, without increasing the price. The promotion is to last for "a few months" and you'll be able to tell which bags have more in them by banners that read: "Hey! There's 20% more free fun to share in here."

Marlene Alexander is a freelance writer and dollar store diva. She writes ideas and tips for home decorating using only items from the dollar store.

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