Monday, January 11, 2010

Food Bandwagon Marketing: When Fools Jump In?

When foodservice marketers don’t know what to do they play follow the leader, any leader? They don’t appear to care about their own brand, or customers. Under pressure from the CEO they simply copy what is working for someone else, implementing short term tactics. That leads their brand no where fast.

Recently Joel Cohen stated that “Discounting is the penalty you pay for being unremarkable”, I got it. The quagmire that many food retailers find themselves in is a direct result of unremarkable goals, brand positioning, lack of or simply no consumer research. I was contacted by a CEO of a food retail chain who asked if I had any idea why his company was lagging in their niche (Grocerant Niche Ready-2-Eat or; Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food)?

He told me that they were testing “table service”. When asked why? There was a long list of rationalization. My response was direct and simple BS then rationalization is not justification.

That got me to think about the new 5 P’s of food marketing. Price, Product, Place, Portability, and Promotion the 5 P’s are the framework that brand managers and chain leaders can control the value of the brand, albeit limited to their ability and willingness. The objective is to make decisions that focus the 5 P’s on the consumer generating perceived value and ongoing relevance for the consumer i.e. building brand value and ongoing customer loyalty.

Ready-2-Eat and Ready-2-Eat food is a dynamic niche. Companies today need new consumer research focus. They need to establish new and moving benchmarks. Food consumers have hundreds of thousands of additional points of food distribution to choose from today than they had 15 years ago. Focusing on benchmarks of from years ago or a consumer data from 1999 in today’s world will end up getting a company in trouble fast. Customers are dynamic not static.

Recently we have witnessed from the food retail community Bandwagon or Copy-Cat marketing! For example Kids Eat Free or the $5.00 price point! Companies the ilk of Fuddruckers, IHOP, Tropical Smoothie, Boston Market and even Holiday Inn. Simply put both the long term or short run  Copy-Cat marketing is flatly UNREMARKABLE.

When marketers are more worried abouBrand Protectionism  than following the customer’s, sales lag, profit dip and customers wonder. Copping promo’s such as $1.00 cheeseburgers or kids eat free will never produce long term results. It’s no wonder that the Grocery and Convenience store sectors are garnering a larger share of the consumer’s food dollar more importantly growing share of stomach.  based in Tacoma, WA is the global leader in the grocerant niche. For product, or program assessments or winning strategies within the grocerant niche call 253-759-7869.

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