Is Ranch Kicking Ketchup to the Curb?
A new report says the divisive dressing is now the preferred condiment of Millennials and Gen Z.
Has America reached a major ranch-dressing milestone? Are millennials killing ketchup? And can’t all the condiments just be friends and get along?
These are a few questions raised by a recent ranch-dressing deep dive in Ad Age that declared the sometimes divisive dressing to be “the new condiment of choice for millennials and Gen Z,” who “increasingly use it where prior generations used ketchup.”
Who says? Well, Clorox Co., parent company of best-selling ranch brand Hidden Valley Ranch, for one. Hidden Valley marketers note that ranch has branched way out from its origins as a humble salad dressing and is now commonly used as a dip for pizza and a topping for fries and popcorn. It has even, they say, overtaken blue cheese to become the preferred sauce in which to dip chicken wings.
And of course we all know that ranch has become a social media darling, controversial in a way dressing brands have really leaned into: “Either you love it or you really love it,” HVR’s Insta proclaims. One assumes you can count among the latter the people who eat at the St. Louis restaurant Twisted Ranch, which launched in 2015 and promises that ever item on its menu incorporates its “very own ranch seasoning and ranch flavors.” Also the people who agitated big-time for Ranch-dressing-flavored Pop-Tarts.
“Ranch is a rising iconic flavor in food and culture today,” Jacquie Klein, who helps oversee Hidden Valley marketing, told Ad Age. “It’s found on more than half of restaurant menus and in 75 percent of homes in the U.S. It’s really embedded in our culture. We have more than 5 million Twitter conversations a year. We always love to see Hidden Valley Ranch fountains at weddings and mini-kegs at backyard barbecues.”
Klein says ranch’s gain is ketchup’s loss. While category leader Hidden Valley’s sales alone rose about 3 percent in the last year after years of growth, ketchup sales (which now lag behind both mayo and salsa) have been mostly flat, Ad Age reports, citing Nielsen data from Bernstein Research. (Guess that Mayochup/Edchup visibility only goes so far.)
“Ranch is a mega-flavor in food that’s found across the store, where ketchup is really bound by its bottle in the condiments aisle,” Klein said.
Now, now … Surely there’s room enough in the pantry for all the condiments.