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Friday, December 01, 2006

Brand extension failure: Gerber Singles

When branding goes ga ga

Baby-food manufacturer Gerber is responsible for one of the most frequently referenced brand failures of all time. Alongside Coca-Cola’s New Coke and Harley Davidson’s perfume, Gerber’s attempt to crack the adult food market is certainly one of the main entrants in the branding Hall of Shame.

The idea was to produce small servings of food for single adults – such as fruits, vegetables, starters and desserts – in the same jars used for baby food. However, when Gerber’s adult range was launched in 1974, the company soon discovered that the idea of eating products such as ‘Creamed Beef’ out of a small jar was not most people’s idea of a good night in.

Furthermore, the product was called Gerber Singles. According to Susan Casey in the October 2000 issue of Business 2.0, ‘they might as well have called it I Live Alone and Eat My Meals From a Jar.’

Whether the product had been market researched is anybody’s guess – and it is certainly hard to get a comment from Gerber itself. One thing is certain, however. Baby food for grown-up loners failed spectacularly.

Lesson from Gerber Singles

  • Think from the consumer’s perspective. Although Gerber Singles made sense from Gerber’s perspective (after all, the company could save manufacturing costs by using the same jars as for its baby food), no consumer was interested in buying a product which not only told the world that he or she couldn’t find a partner, but also gave the reason why (because the person was a big baby).

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