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Doritos 'Mystery' Flavors Will Test Consumer Loyalty

Bags Hit Stores on Saturday

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Mystery flavors.
Mystery flavors.

How much of food marketing relies on the packaging? Frito-Lay is about to find out.

Beginning Saturday, the PepsiCo-owned snack marketer will sell three new flavors of its Doritos Jacked tortilla chips in special "mystery" packaging. The mostly silver-colored packs come in three different versions using red, yellow and blue color splashes along with a generic-looking "batch number." The packs reveal very little else about the flavors inside.

Under the program, called "Bold Flavor Experiment," consumers are asked to try all three mystery flavors and vote for their favorite beginning on April 29. The flavor that gets the most votes will be put on shelves in the fall, with normal packaging.

Food marketers more typically plaster their packages with product pitches and visuals. So in essence, Frito-Lay will be testing consumer loyalty to Doritos and its general attributes.

To help things along, though, Doritos is also giving away daily prizes of $1,000 in gold to people who vote at a special website called BoldFlavorExperiment.com. The gold giveaway is meant to play off the origin of Doritos name, which connotes "little bits of gold" in Spanish, according to the brand. ("Dorado" means "golden" in Spanish.)

A Regular Doritos Jacked package, this one for Enchilada Supreme flavor.
A Regular Doritos Jacked package, this one for Enchilada Supreme flavor.

Ram Krishnan, VP of marketing for Frito-Lay, said he's confident that consumers will go along and pick up flavors that aren't named. "There is a value that the Doritos brand will bring, which is intense flavor experience and bold crunch," he said.

As with most food products, the brand will have to list the ingredients on the package. Shouldn't that be enough to provide some pretty strong clues? Not necessarily. Mr. Krishnan said that the flavors come from how the ingredients are mixed together. He would only say that the flavors would be "complex."

The brand will not identify the flavors until later this summer, after the 60-day voting period ends. In the interim, Doritos will give clues to consumers who partake in an online scavenger hunt on the promotional site.

Doritos will market the program with social media and in-store advertising. No TV ads are planned. Agencies working on the program include Ketchum for PR and Marketing Arm for social media and in-store.

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