Apr 23, 2012
One of a series by Ken Tencer, Spyder Works CEO
Have we seen the death of the Twinkie? If urban legend is correct, they can survive just about anything … except, maybe, a change in consumer culture.
Hostess Brands built its success around the development of sweet, indulgent snack foods, from its original chocolate cupcakes to the cream-filled shortcake Twinkie. James Dewar, who invented Twinkie in 1930, called them “the cream puff of the proletariat.” But something has changed. The proletariat began to realize that they wanted to live longer, healthier lives… fighting the sweeping epidemic of obesity, not dying from it.
Contrast Hostess with Pepsico, whose CEO has announced her objective to generate 50% of company revenue from healthful food. Pepsico embraced the new wave of health-conscious thinking and made it a corporate crusade. They have diversified into snacks and drinks that support today’s active lifestyles, through Gatorade, Quaker, Aquafina and more.
With Hostess’s parent company filing for bankruptcy protection in January, the respective failure and success of these two companies couldn’t be more dramatic. But it hinged on one minor difference. Pepsico looked and listened and recognized that while change is all around us, one thing doesn’t change: The customers know best. Don’t ignore what they’re telling you.