Colin & Chips? Fish branding and how pollack became one of Britain's most popular fish

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I lived in Mozambique when I was a kid. This was in the 1980s. 

I remember going with my parents to a local restaurant in Maputo. I have a look at the menu. A dish called Mozambican cod intrigues me.

So I ask my dad, "What's Mozambican cod?".

My dad says, "Miguel, it's just a fancy name for shark."

Then my dad calls the waiter and asks, "I know this is shark. Why do you call it Mozambican cod?"

The waiter smiles and says, "If we call it shark, no one will order it."

In 2009, Sainsbury's, a popular supermarket chain in the United Kingdom, wanted to boost sales of pollack (a white fish caught in UK waters).

For 3 reasons. 

Pollack was a sustainable alternative to cod. "If British consumers bought more pollack it could make a big difference to cod stocks.", said Alison Austin, environment manager at Sainsbury's.

It was cheaper - pollack was priced at Sainsbury's stores at £9.90 per kilo, cod was £11.49.  

And the taste is very similar. In fact, most people could't even tell the difference in taste between pollack and cod. 

But there was a problem. 

British shoppers weren't buying it. Research showed that most Brits were too embarrassed to ask for pollack because of how it sounds. 

So Sainsbury's decided to change its name from pollack fish to colin, the French word for hake.

Turns out it was a brilliant move. Because pollack became one of Britain's most popular fish after Sainsbury's rebrand. 

The right branding can make a product a huuuuuuge hit or a total failure. So choose your product names wisely. Because when making purchase decisions consumers tend to be more influenced by mental shortcuts than logic. 

Your pal,

Miguel Ferreira
Founder & Chief Copywriter, Teardwn + Nishi + Jack Had A Groove FM


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