Monday, January 14, 2013

Skittles Cannot Solve Riddle of Brand Extension

Once again, M&M Mars has missed the mark with one of its seemingly endless stream of brand extensions-- this time, the Skittles Riddles.  I got a package of these Skittles in my Xmas stocking (that's right: it's still happening!), and it was about the third time I had encountered the Riddles.  If you are unfamiliar with this candy, the basic premise is that the color of the Skittle does not tell you the flavor contained inside.  The flavor, therefore, is a "riddle" to be solved by the consumer.  The Sphinx's riddles these ain't, however.  Rather, these Skittles are an ineffectual assortment of odd flavors that, once identified, still do not imbue the consumer with the sense of glee that should accompany the eating of great candy.  First, the "punch" flavor is so generic as to be forgettable.  Second, the strawberry is an original flavor, which is disappointing to the Skittles purist: so few new ideas, eh Skittles?  Third, the apple flavor represents a kind of over-turning of American fans' wills, as people like me voted to keep the apple flavor from replacing the original lime Skittle in 2001 (check this old thread). Finally, the raspberry and watermelon flavors are OK, but boring, hardly enough to support a new line of Skittles. The fact that colors do not match flavors matters little when the flavors are so uninteresting.

The colors of these Skittles do not exactly make one salivate, either.  They look like the colors that toddlers get when they over-mix their finger paints.

This failure supports my general opinion that candy extensions are often sub-par.  Readers may remember, for example, my invective take on tropical candy brand extensions.  People might also simultaneously remember, though, that in the same post, I praise the Sour Skittle as one of the turn-of-the-century's greatest achievements.  So ultimately, the fact that the Riddles are on close-out at the local Kroger's and out of stock in most online candy stores (suggesting their imminent discontinuation) is only marginally pleasing to me.  I would never want to stifle the potentiality of brand extension candy.  For every travesty, like the chewy Spree, there are triumphs, like the Sour Skittle or Gummi Sweetart.  Yes, the Skittles Riddles are a big flop, but they are perhaps a stepping stone to future innovation, and we can all get behind that.

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