Monthly Archives: June 2012

Ranch style dressing? Consumers have moved it to the condiment aisle.

Food and beverage marketers are always racking their collective brains to develop new products and line extensions. Sometimes the shortest distance to success is to watch and listen to how consumers use and define food products. Hidden Valley Ranch has taken a cue from consumers and acknowledged that their product is so much more than a salad dressing. It is launching Hidden Valley for Everything, a condiment, shelved in the condiment aisle right next to Ketchup.

Millennials have grown up using Hidden Valley Ranch on much more than just the veggies their moms insisted that they eat. From potatoes, aka fries, and sandwiches to, yes, pizza, this generation associates ranch style dressing with a wide range of foods.  And, Ketchup has been replaced by ranch style dressing as the condiment of choice for many of them.

The take away for food and beverage marketers is: the demand chain is now in the driver’s seat of CPG growth. For marketers who pay closer attention to how consumers are actually using their products, there may be some golden opportunities for product innovation and line extensions. From a pure marketing perspective, it is much easier to reposition a well known, branded product for wider use, than to sell a new product concept from the ground up.

Hidden Valley for Everything has undergone some product reformulation in redefining the base salad dressing as a condiment. In addition, a well crafted advertising and marketing campaign targeted to Millennials launched last week. The campaign speaks to them, not their moms, and includes video of battling bottles of Hidden Valley for Everything versus Ketchup, via Facebook and other social media. The real winner is likely to be the Hidden Valley Food Products Company.

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More dads are doin’ the grocery duty.

Grocery shopping, along with meal prep, have historically been moms’ responsibility. However, according to a recent survey from Cone Communications, 52% of dads claim to be the primary grocery shopper. That “dad” claim is supported by 35% of the moms in the survey who agree.

Food and beverage marketers need to rethink how they message to their consumers. They need to become gender blind and drop any stereotypical thinking about dazed and confused dads aimlessly wandering the grocery aisles. The research indicates that grocery shopping and food budgeting is very much viewed as a shared responsibility.

Dads are only slightly less likely to write a detailed grocery list, 63% of dads vs. 65% of moms, and they are not the coupon collectors or ad readers that moms are, 56% of dads vs.62% of moms. Dads do have the edge in terms of planning a weekly menu, 52% of dads vs. 46% of moms, and they do spend more time researching the products on their grocery lists, 24% for dads vs 12% for moms.

The best ways to reach dads with food and beverage advertising is through in-store promotions (57%), traditional media advertising such as newspapers, magazines, and TV (50%), and online (44%).  Since more dads are doin’ the grocery duty, food and beverage marketers, as well as supermarkets and specialty stores, need to think in terms of  gender neutral marketing.

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Social media is all the buzz, but email still dominates online time.

With all the hype about all the social media channels commandeering consumer attention, the fact is email still dominates online time spent by 25+ year old males and females, according to a recent survey by Netpop Research.  That’s not to say that food and beverage marketers can ignore the fact that in 2012, 79% of Internet users are social networkers, but they spend more online time reading and communicating via email.

The greatest value email brings to the marketing table is the ability to control and target messages. In fact, targeted, controlled messages through all online advertising is at an all-time high. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (AIB), total online advertising revenue for Q1 2012 hit a record $8.4 billion, a 15% increase over Q1 2011.

For food and beverage marketers, it’s not an either/or choice between social media and online advertising.  The better approach is an integrated advertising and promotional plan that makes the most effective use of both social media and online controlled, targeted advertising messages, through banner ads and targeted email.

To engage consumers, food and beverage marketers can make effective use of social media through games, contests, and special offers. These are the types of engagement that generate awareness and buzz. However, for hardcore marketing and personalized incentives to buy products, email provides the mechanism to talk directly to individual consumers, on a regular basis, with offers targeted to their purchase histories and expressed preferences.

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