What We Can Learn From the Twinkie’s Sweet Comeback

August 5, 2013 / Marketing

Question: How many Twinkies have you eaten this past month?

Answer: Probably not as many as we have.

If you haven’t noticed yet, the beloved cream-filled sponge cakes are back in the stores, and the sorrowful demise of the Twinkie is now history. After months off the shelves, Hostess relaunched their major brands last month with a campaign they called The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever.
Failure is not always the end of the world, and second chances exist. Here are some takeaways from the Twinkie’s successful re-emergence back into the marketplace.

Simple works.
Why do people have such a sentimental bond with the Twinkie? It could be partly due to its 82-year history. But it’s also likely due to the Twinkie’s simplicity. It’s a combination of two basic elements—sponge cake and vanilla cream. Kind of like the M&M. People tend to respond to simplicity.

Adapt and streamline when necessary.
The new Twinkie now has a longer shelf life (45 days), a smaller size and way fewer jobs. The new Hostess employs 1,500 nonunion workers. The old Hostess had 15,000 union members on its payroll. The company also plans to use just four of its eleven factories. The company says it can make the cuts and still hit the same capacity as the old version.

Listen to your customers.
The triumphant return of Twinkies is also a victory for social media. When Hostess went bankrupt and Twinkies disappeared, consumers retorted through Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Apollo Global Management listened and today Twinkies are back. The lesson? Pay attention to the consumers in your networks and find out what products they want and need. Social media gives them a clear voice.

And FYI: The previous owners of the Hostess brand did try to respond to America’s cry for “healthier” junk food last summer (before they declared bankruptcy) when they introduced a lighter and leaner Twinkie. A single spongy treat now has 135 calories and weighs 38.5 grams, compared to the traditional Twinkie, which weighed in at 42.5 grams and had 150 calories. The change may not have saved the previous owners from bankruptcy, but the new brand owners are packaging the slimmed-down Twinkie, so you can snack without guilt and those extra whopping 15 calories.