Cheetos debut in UK: Wotsit all about?

By Lynda Searby

- Last updated on GMT

How can Cheetos coexist with PepsiCo's other corn puff brand Wotsits in the UK? Analyst asks.
How can Cheetos coexist with PepsiCo's other corn puff brand Wotsits in the UK? Analyst asks.

Related tags: Cheese puffs, Cheetos

PepsiCo has launched its extruded corn snack brand Cheetos in the UK, puzzling some market commentators as the product will compete with the company’s Wotsit brand.

Cheetos are one of PepsiCo’s oldest brands and rank as the number one selling brand of cheese puffs in their primary market - the US.

PepsiCo UK’s head of field sales, Matt Goddard, told BakeryAndSnacks that Cheetos were also popular across Europe and that this was one of the reasons for rolling them out into the UK market.

“Cheetos is a much loved snack brand across the globe, and with it joining our snacks range in the UK, we expect it to be very popular with shoppers,​ he said.

He confirmed that the three Cheetos products launching in the UK are single-serve packs of Cheetos Twisted and Cheetos Crunchy, both price-marked at 39p (US$0.59), along with a £1 price-marked sharing pack of Cheetos Twisted.

Acting on impulse

Mintel's director of innovation and insight, David Jago, deduces that PepsiCo is targeting Cheetos at the convenience channel in the UK.

“With the launch it seems that PepsiCo is now going for value positioning with price-marked packs, which suggests it may put the focus on convenience stores and smaller shops, rather than supermarkets, with Cheetos as an affordable impulse buy for kids and parents with kids,​ he told us.

War on Wotsits?

The move is a baffling one, given that traditional extruded snacks are in long term decline in the UK and that Cheetos have the potential to cannibalize sales of PepsiCo’s Wotsits brand, which is also a cheese flavored corn puff.

“Cheetos will be in direct competition with Wotsits - both have similar positioning and both are Walkers / PepsiCo brands. From that point of view you can't imagine that a lot of smaller stores will stock both brands,​pointed out Jago.

With this in mind, he ventured the Cheetos move could be “all about channel differentiation​.

Simple sales tactic

PepsiCo simply said it was “hoping to drive sales” ​with the introduction of Cheetos.

PepsiCo-owned Walkers is the sweet and savory snacks category leader in the UK, commanding a 31% retail value share in 2014, according to Euromonitor figures. However, its value share did decline slightly in 2014 as other branded players and private label products snapped up more of the category’s value growth over the year, said Euromonitor.

Given the competitive and saturated nature of the UK savory snacks market, any gains in sales -no matter how incremental - count for a lot.

This is the first time PepsiCo has officially launched Cheetos in the UK. Mintel’s GNPD (Global New Product Database) records show that the snacks have previously been available in the UK, but via independent distributors. 

Related topics: PepsiCo, Snacks, Manufacturers

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5 comments

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It's not a baffling move...

Posted by Adam juniper,

...try eating an original crunchy cheese Cheeto and then eat a wotsit. Wotsits feel empty inside by comparison. Cheetos have a density, like a wotsit that's been near a black hole or something. Soooooo much nicer.

UK Cheetos don't take quite as deliciously wrong as US ones though. But I'd still eat a much bigger bag - I don't get why the cheesy ones are the only ones not in a £1 sharing bag.

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cheetos flaming hot

Posted by peter simm,

Can I just say what a nice snack you make but I bought a pack of 6 from londiz on Halifax road Rochdale and I opened to packs of flaming hot and there was soggy and there was in date

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Dissappinted

Posted by Tina,

theyve either changed the recipie in America and aren't like they used to be or they've only changed it for uk consumers but these ones in the UK are nothing like the ones I had growing up abroad. They're smaller for a start and they're not as cheesy because I remember them turning my fingers orange!

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