Oligopoly Campbell's Soup

Are You Buying Less Soup?

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Jan 9, 2014    •    1374 Views

Canned food used to be aspirational.

The ads in 1918 said that easy-to-use canned foods gave Mom more time to play with the kids.

Oligopoly Canned Foods Ad 1918

Canned Foods were healthy.

Oligopoly Canned Food History

They were versatile.

Oligopoly Canned Food

You can see where we are going.

A perfect way for a firm to convey a special message, the can was more than a package. It was a competitive tool that large, dominant businesses like Campbell’s and Heinz–oligopolies–used to distinguish their product for more than 100 years.

Now though, Quartz tells us that soup sales have been “luke warm” and the reason could be the can.

Oligopoly Worldwide Soup Sales

According to marketing research from Euromonitor, firms are responding to the stale image of the can and its contents with stand-up pouches. On the supply side, pouches have a one to two year shelf life and they are cheaper to make than cans.  As for demand, consumers associate pouches with easy use, freshness and versatility.

Sound familiar?

Sources and Resources: A good read, this BBC magazine article chronicled the history of the tin can and was the source of my pictures, a Euromonitor blog had the data and analysis and h/t to Quartz for alerting me to the can’s demise.



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