Unbound Edition. Meaningful conversations about brand, from Davis Brand Capital.

Craft versus Kraft

Andy Warhol knew what he was doing. In the early 1960s, when he was looking to create a stir in the world of modern art, he fixed on an image as familiar to his audience as the Pietà was to Michelangelo’s — the Campbell’s soup can. It was both a consumer good and an icon of the age. Red and white, like the wine and bread of the sacraments Warhol knew from church, it promised comfort for the user once its condensed contents were mixed with water, heated and served.

But Warhol’s old models are now facing misfortune. The signature offering of Campbell Soup Company of Camden, New Jersey, founded in 1869, is falling out of favor with consumers in the US. Campbell’s condensed soup is no longer the stuff of modern art; it is becoming a symbol of days gone by, when Americans could be counted on to stock their pantries with the processed food brands advertised relentlessly on the three big television networks.

Today, a revolution is under way in US supermarkets. A more health-conscious millennial generation is forsaking the convenience food of their baby-boomer parents for fresher, more natural fare and proteins of various sorts. Burgeoning immigrant populations are stoking demand for different types of provisions. Beleaguered consumers are buying lower-cost store brands at bare-bones retailers, or cooking less and eating out more so they can work longer hours.

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