Kraft macaroni and cheese may have the marketing power of nostalgic pull, but it wasn’t until the brand quietly changed the ingredients in its iconic blue box that it started to see real success.
Last April, Kraft announced an initiative to ditch artificial colors and additives, and in December, those changes went into effect. The company then announced that sales skyrocketed to 80 million boxes since the new recipe alteration and “nobody noticed.”
"We’ve sold well over 50 million boxes with essentially no one noticing,” Greg Guidotti, vice president for meal solutions at Kraft Heinz, told The New York Times.
Many other companies, including Kellogg and Hershey, also removed artificial ingredients from their products, but none announced the measure like Kraft. According to The Washington Post, this was all a pretty brilliant marketing ploy to get us to notice Kraft even more so than other companies that had made similar moves.
“Introducing a tweak to something people already love is a tricky business,” WaPo argues. “Especially when that thing is as iconic as mac and cheese. When people know a product well and adore it, they expect something very specific from it. They want it just as it is. They don't want it to change.”
By quietly rolling out the recipe tweaks and waiting until people continued buying the product as if nothing happened, Kraft essentially protected themselves from a “revolt” against people who didn’t want the formula to change, based on principle alone.