When just vanilla won’t do … how about blueberry pie Oreo?
Someone once said: If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. That person does not work for Oreo.
Oreo makes a lot of cookies — 40 billion of them in 18 countries each year — enough to make it the world’s bestselling cookie. Most of them are the familiar sandwich that’s over 100 years old: white cream nestled between two chocolate wafers. But the company has increasingly been experimenting with limited-edition flavours that seemed designed as much for an Instagram feed as they are to be eaten.
“Everyone loves the classic Oreo,” said Madeline Vincent, a brand manager for Oreo, produced by Nabisco. “We don’t mess with that.”
But outside that classic Oreo? Oh, there is much messing about. This year, the company released limited-edition flavours like Jelly Donut, Mississippi Mud Pie and Firework. They joined a packed shelf that has recently included flavours like Cookie Dough, Birthday Cake, Mint, S’mores and Red Velvet, which proved so popular as a limited edition that the company upgraded it to everyday flavour status.
The limited-edition flavours are scarce by design, appearing on shelves for eight to 10 weeks. Some are available only in certain markets or certain stores.
“We consider a variety of factors to determine the right flavours for the right markets and partners, such as customer feedback and consumer preference,” Vincent said, adding that there is no specific template for which flavour goes to which retailer. “It is decided on a case-by-case basis.”
But there are certain flavours that even fewer people will get to try: those that result from a social media contest that will earn one Oreo fan $500,000. The company is using the hashtag #MyOreoCreation to collect suggested flavours. The top flavours, as determined by Oreo, will be produced and available in the U.S. next year for the public to vote on.
Some contenders being teat-marketed so far have included English Breakfast Tea (it tastes like tea), Peach Melba (has the flavour of a gummi peach), Mermaid (a sort of lime cream), and at least three doughnut-adjacent flavours to complement the Jelly Donut already in mass production: Raspberry Danish, Coffee and Doughnut, and Beignet.
Darren Seifer, an industry analyst at the NPD Group, a market research company, said companies need to be cautious when offering consumers a new product that’s too similar to the original.
“Any time you have a line extension, your main concern should be whether or not it’s going to be cannibalizing your mainline product,” he said.
Oreo’s social media push, he added, could be interpreted as an effort to save on market research funds — which other companies certainly have done, he said.
Mississippi Mud Pie is one of the new flavours Nabisco has tried in the Southern U.S.