AS A SNACK, consumers have typically placed pork rinds in the “tastes good but bad for me” category – something that weight-watching, health-conscious consumers should avoid. That’s changed in recent years thanks in part to the popularity of high-fat, low-carb diets as well as endorsements from influencers like Chrissy Tiegan. Snack maker Rudolph Food took advantage of recent category growth with a package redesign for its oldest label Pepe’s and its line of pork rinds (chicharrones) and other pork-based snacks.
Not long ago, pork rinds were better associated with Homer Simpson than swimsuit models. “To go from there to Chrissy Teigen is a pretty big leap,” says Mark Singleton, Rudolph Foods’ VP of sales and marketing. Market research showed a remarkable rise in household penetration of pork rinds from 6 to 21 percent.
Singleton was pleased with the numbers, but he wasn’t satisfied. “That’s still only one out of five Americans, and that’s why the category has so much runway,” he says. Singleton doesn’t just want to gain market share on his competitors, he wants to compete with popcorn and potato chips.
For that to happen, Pepe’s needed new packaging. Pepe’s director of marketing, Kathryn Amatriain, explains, “The new Pepe’s packaging had to refresh the brand in a way that made it appealing to both traditional chicharrones consumers, as well as the changing consumer demographics of the category, overall. We wanted to be sure we were capturing the interest of our up-and-coming shoppers with art that felt more energetic and more vibrant.”
The challenge was appealing to consumers in a younger demographic without alienating Pepe’s core consumer base. Authenticity mattered, and any redesign would have to honor chicharrones’ place as a traditional part of Hispanic culture.
Levitskie Creative, a package design firm and longtime collaborator with Rudolph, was up for the challenge. To continue Pepe’s appeal to Hispanic consumers, Levitskie needed to convey their pork-based snacks, which include chicharinas, tiritas and cracklins, as a part of a family meal.
“Chicharrones are used a lot in cooking,” says Kristin Levitskie, partner and creative director at Levitskie. “Yes, it is a snack, but it’s also used to increase protein content and in traditional dishes.” A key part of communicating this was large, clear product photography. With tiritas, which are cracklin strips made with pork skin and fat, the product was photographed in a copper pot set against a blue or red tablecloth depending on the flavor. It creates a homestyle feel that was key to the design.
The redesign was a big change from how pork snacks have traditionally been packaged, which in some cases features the rinds on butcher trays wrapped in plastic. “And in the bottom of a butcher tray on the backside, there’s a hole to let the air out,” says Singleton. “Well, that hole also lets air in, right? It’s the worst of all possible packaging for a pork rind.” This packaging may work when sold in the meat case of Hispanic grocery stores, but not in chain supermarkets where longer shelf life is needed.
Levitskie needed to bring continuity to the product line of chicharrones, chicharinas and cracklins which previously had multiple packaging formats and different sizes. “A big part of our task was creating the architecture and the branding that would really work across all of the different sizes and product substrates and allow for additional new products to be brought in.” The new design brings consistency to Pepe’s products while creating better brand awareness.
Pepe’s products also featured different logos, so that needed cohesion as well. “We came up with a way to honor their old logo and use a simplified logo as well,” said Susie Edwards, partner and design director. “Whatever the pack is or brand product, the logo is the same.”Advertisement
Rudolph also worked with package design firm Cyber Graphics to create the new design whose sleek, matte-black finish and distinct color palette make it stand out on the shelf. “It puts us in a position to attract an elevated consumer who may even be educating themselves about their food choices or is open to trying new products,” says Amatriain. “We feel the refreshed Pepe’s packaging helps us to stay true to the story behind the product, the history chicharrones have in the Hispanic culture, and allows us to comfortably introduce adventurous consumers to the Pepe’s brand.”
“It’s a beautiful bag,” agrees Singleton, “but more importantly, it communicates the brand.”
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