To paraphrase Dr. Seuss, “Consumers are consumers, no matter how small.”
At least that was the thinking of the team at Hormel Foods. The company recently created and launched SKIPPY® P.B. & Jelly Minis, ready-made PB&J sandwiches that are meeting the approval of one of the toughest crowds around: kids.
Undaunted, members of R&D, consumer insights and more sought out expert input and feedback from local students. It was a strategy grounded in practicality. Elementary school kids in and around Austin, Minn., came through in a big way on the development of the award-winning SKIPPY® P.B. Bites a few years ago. They came through in a big way this time, too.
“They’re open and honest,” said Stephanie Swift, a consumer insights analyst who works on the project. In other words, they don’t spare your feelings, nor do they worry about obstacles to their desires.
Hormel Foods employees were looking for that brand of unvarnished truth two years ago when SKIPPY® P.B. & Jelly Minis were still in the R&D phase. They sat down for lunch with about 30 second-graders. True to form, the kiddos didn’t hold back.
“We took a lot of their feedback to heart,” Swift said.
The resulting product is a round, soft bakery-like bun filled with SKIPPY® creamy peanut butter and strawberry or grape jelly. (There’s an option with whole-grain bread and natural peanut butter spread as well.) Each pouch contains two minis. They’re versatile and portable, features that appeal to today’s busy families.
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Since it was unveiled to consumers in 2018, the product has been drawing new buyers to the category.
It’s also giving Hormel Foods another notch in its taking-peanut-butter-out-of-the-jar belt, a charge that gave rise in 2015 to SKIPPY® P.B. Bites. However, what the team really wanted to know was if the final result would pass muster with the grade school set.
So, it was back to the lunchroom and the brain trust, whose members were now in fourth grade.
Layla gave the minis a thumbs up, as did the other kids. Evidently Hormel Foods nailed the bread in particular. “It’s baked on the bottom and squishy on top. That’s what I like about it,” said Joshua. Monica agreed. “The bread is soft and not too crunchy.”
The peanut butter is also a hit – and not just with the younger set.
“Because SKIPPY® P.B. & Jelly Minis offer a peanut butter experience, moms feel good about giving them to their kids,” Swift said, adding she eats them and feeds them to her children.”
Swift is no doubt making a note of that, adding it to the schoolkids’ critiques and ideas.
Proud of the part they played in developing a new product that is being eaten up – so to speak – by its age group, the children aren’t willing to let Hormel Foods rest on its laurels for long.
The younger children were especially creative, she added. On the other hand, the older ones understood some functionality of food. For example, they suggested SKIPPY® P.B. & Jelly Minis would be an ideal snack before practice or a game.
Then they got to the heart of the matter, laying out their wish list.
“We received a lot of feedback on new flavors they’d like to see, so we’re going to take that back to our R&D team and get to work,” Swift said. “In the meantime, kudos to our R&D team on what we delivered that’s in market today.”