The power of data – reviving Quaker Oats in Netherlands

The Quaker Oats team at PepsiCo wanted to revive a “dusty” brand image and at the same time to launch a new Cruesli flavor in supermarkets. Quaker Oats new flavour campaign encouraged the public to help create and name a new flavour, on the Quaker Oats website. The winning flavour would then be produced at scale and launched in supermarkets with the winner receiving a prize of 10,000 €. However, the true winner was PepsiCo as they received a wealth of data from engaged consumers.

This campaign format was not new to PepsiCo. They’ve done this several times with Walkers and Doritos in the UK. However what was new, was how they went about it.

The Campaign

Instead of relying on purely TV ads and on-pack promotions, they leveraged social media and influencers to reach a wide audience. This campaign included online advertising, social media, TV ads, in-store marketing, and outdoor billboards. They also activated influencers on social media and agencies to reach a broader audience than they could reach. This multi-channel approach reached a diverse audience. All contestants submitted a new flavour and its name along with their contact details.

Once the Quaker Oats team picked the top 3 flavours, they not only asked their consumers to vote for their favourite flavour but also retargeted all the participants who had submitted new flavours, to pick their favourite of the 3.

Along with the announcement of the winning flavour, the Quaker Oats used the data they collected during the campaign to target all the participants to remind and motivate them to buy the new flavour. They also ran social media ads with the message, ‘Be the first to try’, along with an incentive, win the new flavour.

The results

The social media campaign reached over 677,230 consumers, with a high level of engagement, 14%! Through the Agency they hired, they reached an additional 500k consumers.

According to the data provided by PepsiCo to the Mapp team, there were more than 50k submissions during the initial phase, which equated to more than 50k new contacts in their consumer database.

More than 400k votes were submitted on the winning flavour. The cost of getting the votes was 50% lower for the contestants who submitted entries than it was with new voters.

And finally, PepsiCo found that the ROI on interacting with prospects in their database was much higher than engaging and interacting with prospects on their database was far higher than ROI on less targeted campaigns. The positive association with the brand lead to a much higher conversion rate

And now, if you are wondering what the winning flavour was, it was Quaker Cruesli® Frambalicious. The flavour is still available in Netherlands and as popular as ever!

Sources of information: Mapp & Parlez.

Internet and its influence on sales

On 12 March 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee submitted his proposal for the World Wide Web.

Sir Berners-Lee proposed a way of structuring and linking all the information (like a web) available on CERN’s computer network that made it quick and easy to access. This concept of a ‘web of information’ would ultimately become the World Wide Web.

The launch of the Mosaic browser in 1993 opened up the web to a new audience of non-academics. By 1995, the internet and the World Wide Web were established phenomena. In 1995, the Internet had less than 40 million users globally. In contrast, Facebook had 2.9billion monthly active users in January 2022.

While in its early days, the internet was structured on the basis of decentralisation (think p2p file sharing sites like Napster), these days, most use the internet for social media (Twitter, Instagram, TikTok etc), entertainment (think Netflix, Spotify) and for updates on current events, whether fake or not.

Why are we blogging about the internet today?

The internet has had an outsized impact on sales and predictability of sales since inception. While its early (negative) impact was on sales of music, books and movies, due to sites like Napster and Bittorrent, its later impact was on sales of consumer goods, both every day and luxury. This is largely due to social media.

Current events(‘news’) have always influenced our buying decisions. Prior to the advent of the internet, this was restricted to watching the news once a day or to the daily newspaper. So the influence was sporadic. These days, there are several websites (some legitimate, some not), that people can go to for their current events update. This has made the world a lot smaller and influences choices.


Influencer marketing has been around since Roman times, when gladiators endorsed products (Source: According to, the first well known influencer collaboration was when Thomas Wedgwood made a tea set in 1760 for the wife of King George III and marketed his brand as having ‘royal approval’.

In the early 2000s, mommy bloggers were the influencers sought out by various brands to popularise and talk about their products. But the term ‘influencer marketing’ was popularised by social media.

Social media

Of all the websites and apps on the internet, social media has the biggest impact on sales. This is not just owing to the influencers on the internet and what they post, but also due to what regular people like you and me post. With content now going ‘viral’, it is viewed not by 100s of thousands of people, but a few million or billions of people.

In June 2021, Musk tweeted a heartbreak emoji and a Linkin Park referenced meme while talking about Bitcoin. The result: The price of Bitcoin dipped 3.6%.

Another, rather infamous twitter post, was by Weetabix and Heinz. The post was polarising enough that other brands, retailers and even foreign embassies got in on it. Within just a week of posting this, Weetabix sales was up by 15% in Sainsbury’s alone (Source: The Grocer)

Increased information on brands/companies

As information has become the new currency of today, any actions taken by companies are fodder for news, which eventually makes its way to social media.

With Gen Z & Millennials now forming the bulk of shoppers and given how their views on purpose have influenced how Gen X and Baby boomers think about consumption choices as well, this increased availability of information has the power to change brand preferences, based on the information on decisions taken by these companies.

Following the start of the conflict in Ukraine, when Unilever, Pepsi & Coca Cola did not initially pause Russian operations, consumer responses influences sales enough that they then decided to pause operations in the country.

How can sales people predict changes in preferences and prepare for it?

  • Make it a point to stay updated on current events through legitimate sources.
  • Check social media sites regularly to keep an eye on what posts are trending.
  • If your view or preference has been impacted by a particular event, news or a social media post, you can be sure that there are several more whose preference has changed as well.
  • Join different social groups and ensure you regularly talk to people across different generations. Each generation reacts differently (or does not react).

People have always been influenced by the opinions of others. This has been so since times immemorial. Technology has magnified this and will continue to do so as people search for human connection on the internet instead of ‘in real life’.