Revitalizing tired brands: Chiquita's Fruit Bars

Photo by SCHMOOZY FOX I've already talked about line extensions on my blog (in connection with Starbucks and its launch of instant coffee). One talks about line extensions when additional products in a given product category are launched (like instant coffee in the general coffee category). Brand extensions are more radical ways of either capitalizing on the success of your already popular brand, or bringing some fresh air into the otherwise old and tired brand image. A brand extension is "using a successful brand name to launch a new or modified product in a new category." (Kotler, Principles of Marketing, 2002, p. 479)

Yesterday I saw a good example of a brand extension in the center of Brussels: a small shop that sells fresh juices and smoothies. The brand name that adorned the entrance door was, as the title of the article suggests, Chiquita.

When you think, "Chiquita", what usually comes to mind? I have one clear answer, "Bananas." Indeed, Chiquita has traditionally been a banana exporter, and created a strong brand image around bananas. It has been quite tarnished along the way, as Chiquita got in trouble around banana wars and other controversy.

I guess, Chiquita understood that strong banana associations were tiring out the brand. And, at the end of the day, how picky are you about your bananas? Even apples come in different shapes and sizes (see my previous blog post about Pink Lady apples), whereas bananas are more or less the same product whatever the brand is. Let's face it, would you refuse to buy bananas in your local supermarket unless they are Chiquita? I suspect that the answer would be NO.

So, Chiquita has clearly understood this as well, and its launch of fruit bars is a pretty good illustration of what it has done to keep the brand equity alive and kicking. Chiquita Fruit Bars are based on a franchise model, and the European market is managed out of Berlin. I haven't managed to find any results of what this brand extension has done to the mother brand over the recent years, but the idea is good.