Walkers increases its domination of the crisps sector

Walkers is the Smirnoff of the crisps world – weighing in at more than three times the size of its closest competitor, and its dominance shows no signs of being toppled.

A 6% sales rise helped the brand continue its reign as king of the crisps in 2009, and Pringles’ 3% fall means the gap between the top two grows ever wider.

Pringles’ disappointing performance shows a raft of new flavours and limited editions, such as the introduction of Thai Sweet Chilli and Xtreme Firery Wasabi, aren’t enough to guarantee an improvement in sales.

In contrast, it’s been a good year for Doritos and although the brand hasn’t matched or surpassed last year’s 17% growth, a solid 13% uplift should be cause for celebration at Walkers HQ.

McCoy’s 4% drop might give United Biscuits cause for concern, especially as the brand had such a big marketing investment behind it last year. The company will now be hoping that reducing the brand’s saturated fat content by a further 30% in 2010, and introducing a Bacon Sizzler pack and Sizzling King Prawn multipack, will begin to have a positive impact on sales.

United’s other top 10 brand, Hula Hoops, has also dropped by 1%, but the brand’s link-up with Sports Relief could soon change all that, with an on-pack promotion and £1 million ad campaign kicking off this month.

Kettle Chips’ 6% growth might be modest compared to its performance in previous year, but, according to the manufacturer, it? still proves consumers want natural-tasting crisps made from real ingredients.

So what can explain Sensations 19% drop in sales? It’s hard to decide whether Sensations’ recent advertising has failed to resonate with consumers, or if a host of new innovative seasonal editions for Kettle Chips has stolen sales away from Sensations.

One thing’s for sure though, if the brand continues at its current rate of decline it may have fallen off the top 10 completely by this time next year.

Wotsits sits at the bottom of the line-up and is up 10% despite it being a fairly quiet year for the brand in terms of ad campaigns or innovations.