Kraft's South Beach Wraps

A few more well-placed calories could have raised the satisfaction level of Kraft's South Beach Wraps.

By Hollis Ashman and Jacqueline Beckley, Consumer Understanding Editors

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The boxed meal comes in many forms, from the one you get from the deli or the hotel restaurant to Oscar Mayer Lunchables. In the case of Lunchables, many of the items inside carry some sort of Kraft brand, which ensures the "goodness" of the meal.

The idea behind Lunchables was to create a gift from mom to her child. When originally launched, it was thought Lunchables would fit all age groups and demographics. After a short time in the market, it was apparent this product fit best with children.

Now Kraft is trying to expand the market for a Lunchable-like product with South Beach Diet Refrigerated Wrap Sandwich Kits. They come in four varieties to fit consumers' needs for appropriate foods while on a diet. (The wraps discussed in this article are part of a broader array of South Beach diet products from Kraft that range from frozen meals to snack items.)

While the Atkins Diet and other low-carb diets have pretty much run their faddish course, diets such as low-fat, reduced-calorie and Weight Watchers survive. While Dr. Arthur Agatston's South Beach Diet emerged during the low-carb fad, its focus on the right carbs and right fats allowed it a longer run than other low-carb diets.

Weight control for many consumers centers around portion control and finding the right foods within a diet to eat. The Lunchables-style approach to South Beach Diet Wraps allows the consumer to have a meal in a box for around 250 calories with the "right stuff" inside. Just buy the box – you can get on with your busy life and you don't have to think about it any more.

Lunchables themselves are not very healthful. The pepperoni pizza variety contains more than enough fat (15 g overall, 7 g saturated fat), salt (770 mg) and calories (about 300-350 calories). So Kraft needed to create a new brand that would get the message out that this would be healthy and good tasting for an adult while still coming in a box.

The box idea is still about gifting. Kraft needed something to move into the adult segment of boxed meals that would also be clearly healthy and giftable at the same time. This product would be a special, individualized reminder of how much you care about yourself.

Understanding the marketplace

Dietary fads, continuous new health research and the resultant foods have created an issue for consumers who are not longer always sure of what is healthy. This drives consumers to find a trustworthy expert to tell them what to eat.

In 2003, the low-carb prepared meal market was estimated at $194 million and was growing at 97 percent a year. The segment was projected to be $860 million by 2008, according to Business Insights, although that estimate may now be in question.

Meal Kits, frozen foods, refrigerated foods and restaurant take-out meals provide some tough competition. Convenience is an expected norm for most food, but for diet food it is all about access to the type of food you need, when you need it. The issue is timing. When consumers are not time constrained, taste wins nearly 2:1 over healthfulness and nine times over convenience, according to our own research (see tables). When consumers are time constrained, taste remains a 2:1 choice over healthfulness but only 1.5 times over convenience.

The implication? When mainstream consumers are asked to trade-off among health, taste and convenience, their choices are taste and convenience. Health loses. A product with a health orientation must clarify its tastiness and convenience attributes for consumers to want to buy it.

South Beach Diet Wraps are leveraging the technology used in Lunchables and the diversity of Kraft food products to create a convenient and healthful set of meals for consumers who want to eat better on the go.

Consumer-tasters gave the South Beach Diet Turkey & Bacon Club Wraps mixed reviews. Some found them OK, but others felt the product didn't deliver on its promises.

Insights

Consumers find it difficult to eat healthy while on the go and are feeling stressed. What better way to provide comfort than on-the-go branded foods that fit the dietary needs of adults and can provide health, taste and convenience?

Our It!s Convenient, Crave It! and Healthy You! studies integrate 30 conjoint studies to generate a database that can be used to understand the experience of foods. We use the data to understand our target product: South Beach Diet Refrigerated Wrap Sandwich Kits.

For convenient foods, top concern is how consumers conveniently will feed themselves across the entire day (see tables below for survey responses). When you delve deeper into the consumer mind, convenience foods become very much about the best foods available at the time and about foods that are individual and specific to the consumer.

Healthy meals for consumers are about being flavorful and zesty, traditional and home-style, hearty and very much about the meat inside. Craveable classic poultry is about the sides you eat with it, how it is prepared (coated and fried, grilled or roasted), freshness and quality. Healthier poultry is juicy, fresh and prepared in a simple way (grilled, roasted but not fried) and very flavorful.

The key attributes for a healthy meal are taste, price, portion size, appearance and amount of fat. Calories, brand and convenience follow further behind in the consumer hierarchy. The key attributes for classic poultry are taste and aroma. Other important attributes are portion size and product appearance. The key attributes for convenient poultry are taste, appearance, price, healthfulness and aroma.

The key trends in convenience foods are package, value, taste and healthiness.

Value: Private labels or store brands have improved their delivery of quality and sensory attributes. This leads to an expectation that national icon brands must provide even higher levels of innovation and delivery to justify price differences. Value for portion size is found in either larger-sized meals or individual portions.

Kraft Lunchables has consistently provided a high level of innovation from its initial offerings to the groupings of food products inside to kid interaction. And now it extends to Mom. So we can check-off that these wraps provide value.

Taste: Flavorful menu items and ethnic flavors have been the strongest drivers of sales in convenience foods. But the majority of consumers want all-American foods that are comforting and familiar.

When launching a new brand that is intended to appeal to all women between 25 and 55, the key is to make it more enjoyable. The data tell us that adding cheese (as found in the Turkey & Bacon Club Wrap) is like using chocolate in a dessert: The result is going to taste better. Bacon adds a familiar warm flavor. These two ingredients in the wrap assure consumers the food will taste good.

Healthfulness: To provide health, convenience foods reduce fat, calories and in some cases the number of ingredients. There has not been a strong orientation on providing healthfulness via the addition of ingredients. However, an ingredient like turkey in these wraps shouts healthfulness.

The experience

South Beach Diet Wraps are available in four varieties: Grilled Chicken Caesar, Deli Ham and Turkey, Southwestern Chicken and our selection, Turkey & Bacon Club. Total weight is 7 oz.; prices are $3.49 to 3.99.

Our consumers were excited by the prospect of getting everything needed for the South Beach Diet in one place, finding it in a local grocery, with several choices for on-the-go lunching at only 250 calories.

The package is a bright turquoise and white with a photo of the wraps and Jell-O. The package includes optional heating directions to warm the sandwich. It was clearly pointed out there were 250 calories and 25 g of protein. When you lift the lid, there are messages about snacking and other ways to feel satisfied until the next meal.

Inside, it uses standard Lunchables-type packaging to ensure the individual components do not dry out or intermingle. The positive numbers of 250 calories, 25 g of protein and 15 g of fiber go a long way toward offsetting the 64 percent RDA of sodium and 12 g of fat (it's the "right fat").

Consumers can get all the fiber they need with this product alone. One of our consumer-tasters called this impressive. This same consumer, however, felt getting 64 percent of her sodium RDA at lunch was very disturbing. Talk about trade-offs!

The wrap can be warm or cool depending on consumer desires. There were six food items plus a spoon. The meat was eight slices of turkey, a blend of shredded low fat mozzarella and cheddar cheese, bits of real bacon, two whole wheat tortillas and a squeeze package of light mayonnaise. There also is a single-serve portion of sugar-free strawberry Jell-O.

There is no way to close the packaging, so the assumption is that this will be all eaten in one use. That's a good assumption for those with at least average appetites. Those with smaller appetites are left with opened pouches.

Our consumers had mixed reactions. Some found delights. The whole grain of the tortilla made this product less guilt-filled and connotes health. The wrap was tasty and not bitter. It had resistance and therefore texture. The bacon brought in real flavor – without this component, we are afraid it might have been another ersatz low-calorie meal. No one thought the cheese was "real" – it neither tasted nor felt real. Plus, it was bland and lacked texture. The mayo gave some moistness, which helped out the flavorless cheese.

If you're keeping score, the bacon and wrap give flavor, the mayo gives ooze and the turkey and fiber give it healthfulness. For some tasters, the strawberry Jell-O was the best part of the meal. For others, the benefits of the portion control made this an acceptable alternative to frozen diet meals.

Does the product deliver on the promise?

This brand is about a healthy way of eating … eating the right carbs and right fats to help you watch your weight. Kraft has added its brands to lend the product some familiarity and trustworthiness.

The package is easy to carry to work or wherever and provides portion control and therefore calorie control. However, since taste is still considered king for all consumers, this one leaves some questions. Some will find it OK, others will feel it's another product that does not deliver on the promise. Not fulfilling, too much sodium.

Kraft had to make a lot of trade-offs to get to this product and the bigger line concept. Couldn't we get some of those tasty shaved meats that have more taste, rather than the watery deli meat we had? Figure out how to transfer the good execution of the tortilla into a flavorful low-fat cheese. After all, Kraft is cheese. This component should delight; instead, it disappointed. Clearly, everyone loved the bacon.

It doesn't appear that South Beach worries about sodium, which comes from many components in this wrap meal. But the government and its Dietary Guidelines do, so shouldn't we?

Rating: South Beach Diet Wraps -Turkey & Bacon Club do not deliver on the promise to those who need it the most.

Market Potential: OK. Kraft has figured out how to bring adults into Lunchables. The company has created a whole series of South Beach options, and this product is only one.

But the Diet Wraps need more flavor before consumers will be willing to bite. As an industry, we cannot talk about health and nutrition and deliver 64 percent of the RDA for sodium in a lunch meal with 250 calories – it just doesn't add up.



Hollis Ashman (hollis@theuandigroup.com) is chief strategist and Jacqueline Beckley (jackie@theuandigroup.com) is president of the Understanding and Insight Group, a strategy, business and product development firm. See www.theuandigroup.com.



When you think about food and your life, what is the most important thing for you?
  N= Percent
Nutritional value of food 223 35%
Tastiness; it has to taste good to be worth the effort 379 59%
I am busy. It needs to be something I can eat on the go 42  7%



If lack of time leads you to change your food choices, what do you change them to?
  N= Percent
Nutritional value of food 163 25%
Tastiness; it has to taste good to be worth the effort 284 44%
I am busy. It needs to be something I can eat on the go 197 31%
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