Conventional Oreos are delicious, of course, and the company also has introduced a range of creative flavors to keep people interested and excited. But while the flavor is the primary product element that consumers seek from their cookies, Oreo also wants to appeal to them with other hedonic and emotional features, establishing itself as playful, fun, and perfect for every consumer.

A recent innovation allows people to special order their own personalized cookies, to varying extents and equivalently varying price levels. One version simply alters the colors of the crème filling, such that snackers could have a rainbow of cookies in their pantries. This option imposes a price of about 83 per cookie (regular packages, purchased from the grocery store, average out to about 9 cents per cookie).

Another option goes even further. People can special order not just the crème color but also choose whether their versions feature sprinkles or fudge coating. In addition, they can upload a photo to the order page, which then gets printed on the face of the cookies. These versions cost around $2.20 per cookie.

Such personalization is not a totally new innovation; people already can order M&M’s candies with their own sayings, cartoons, and preferred colors. Coca-Cola allows consumers to special order bottles with their names emblazoned on the labels. But Oreo’s offerings align uniquely well with its other recent innovations, which similarly have sought to reinforce its playful brand identity.

That is, in addition to crazy flavors, some of which are clearly appealing (birthday cake) and other that seem perhaps somewhat less so (banana split), Oreo plays around with the ratios of its cookies, such as introducing a “Most Stuf Ever” version that had so much crème filling it was hard for people to fit it in their mouths. These limited edition releases are all sort of tongue-in-cheek, signaling that Oreo is in on the joke. But they also sell out nearly every time, as people laughingly make sure they have the latest and greatest (or worst) idea to come between two chocolate wafers.

The future personalization options thus seem endless. Imagine ordering a set of holiday Oreos with green crème and a candy cane flavor and a picture of Santa emblazoned on them—they would likely be huge favorites at holiday gatherings. But also imagine a personalized cookie depicting a birthday celebrant, new baby, or other individually meaningful picture. Is $2.20 per cookies even enough to charge?

Discussion Questions:

  1. What kind of pricing strategy does Oreo appear to be using to introduce its new product options?
  2. Some of these product variations do not alter the functionality of the cookies. What kind of new product innovations are they then?

Source: Tom Ryan, “Oreo Lovers Gladly Pay a Higher Price to Customize Their Cookies,” Retail Wire, November 17, 2020; Lee Breslouer, “How (And Why) Oreo Keeps Coming Up with Crazy Limited-Edition Flavors,” HuffPost, March 5, 2019