Category Archives: Marketing

For those who notice font changes on cereal boxes and track the weight out of their favorite brand of macaroni.

Move Over Bacon…

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I am absolutely thrilled to have been named Chief Marketing Officer for the Produce Marketing Association, a global trade organization representing companies from every segment of the fresh fruit, vegetable and floral industries.

Growing up in New Jersey, I experienced why it truly is the Garden State. I ate plump red tomatoes straight from my dad’s small plot in the backyard and harvested fuzzy peaches from family farms in Monmouth County.

I am excited to be immersed into a new industry and lead the marketing agenda to drive category sales and consumption in a meaningful, fun and positive way.

And for those who know me, if you thought I was a veggie evangelist before, just you wait…

http://www.pma.com

PS: I think bacon is really yummy

Secret Why It’s Not As Good As Grandma’s

How many times have you made Grandma’s _____ that just didn’t taste right? Despite following that worn recipe card and Grandma’s instructions to a tee, you can’t match hers. Sure, it’s good, but it isn’t the same.

As the holidays approach and people tackle the ol’ family favorites, find comfort knowing that it may not be faulty cooking skills or ingredient degradation.

It’s weight out.

Weight out, the clever little maneuver food manufactures use to keep prices reasonable on store shelved under cost pressures. For instance, you usually pay $1.99 for a bag of sugar, but transportation, labor, materials and sugar cane costs have risen. Marketers have two options to protect margins. Increase the cost to retailers which leads to higher shelf prices or “weight out” the package to keep prices flat. In this example, your 5lb bag of sugar is now 4lbs. Go ahead and take a look.

Weight out is an ethical and pragmatic plan. HOWEVER, it can screw up Grandma’s macaroni recipe which calls for “one block of sharp cheddar cheese.” I’ve noticed Kraft’s Cracker Barrel went from 10 to 8 ounces and my gut tells me it started at 12.

The result, “Not as cheesy as Grandma’s.”

Even the recent innovation Rozoni’s Smart Taste high fiber pasta has dwindled down by 2oz.

Aside from brand weight outs, back of package recipes change overtime. For instance, the sleepy Washington Indian Head Cornmeal’s seemingly unwavering corn bread recipe which had lard/ shortening as an ingredient now calls for oil. You better believe there are lightyears of flavor lost in that tweak.

My professional advice is to take pictures of recipes which detail measurements. It may mean you need to buy 3 packs in the future, but you’ll keep Grandma’s recipes intact for generations to come.

Note To Reader: I use grandma metaphorically in this posting. Both my grandmothers, notoriously superb cooks, passed away before I was born. I always hope and wish that my cooking would meet their standards and approval.

Playing Ketchup

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People get passionate about lots of things. It can spark innovation, social change and personal enlightenment.

Following a passion takes time, resources and dedication and not all things are worth the pursuit. Such is the case with the Heinz and French’s Condiment War. 

The once comfortable bed fellows on your red checkered backyard table started battling it out this summer.  Heinz, the ketchup king, has launched a yellow mustard and French’s has bravely retaliated with it’s own ketchup.  I know…I felt the earth move too. 

Some brand battles have merit like Apple versus the PC and my personal favorite, the Cola Wars between Coke and Pepsi. 

Ketchup and mustard while heavily consumed products in the US are highly commoditized with single-digit growth and tight margins. Yet that has not stopped Heinz and French’s.

I am not saying investment and innovation in a core business does not have merit. Oreos, a 103-year-old brand has refreshed itself as uber relevant for consumers by being spot on in social media and tapping into the foodie culture dessert resurgence with Red Velvet Cake and Key Lime Pie limited edition skus. 

But I am unclear what the REAL benefit consumers get from a French’s ketchup or a better Heinz’s mustard. There isn’t even guilty pleasure in watching the commercials. 

I get it strategically.  Natural synergies with existing businesses, more distribution points, bundled displays, category news, share of shelf, great consumer taste test results… blah, blah, blah. 

As a conspiracy theorist, this reeks of a pet project or personal vendeta that no one but the six people involved on either side really cares about. 

Millions of dollars and tireless employee hours pour into developing and launching new products. As marketing leaders, it’s critical we leverage investment for true competitive threats or breakthrough innovation.  In other words, let’s make it worth the effort. 

My husband has a BRILLIANT saying “fighting over the fry machine” when people put a lot of energy into something inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. 

Sure, people love ketchup, but Heinz and French’s are “fighting over the fry machine” of traditional condiments while the category has been massively reframed with the surge of fresh, healthy and innovative products like salsas, hummus and avocado everything. 

I’m sure Heinz and French’s made exceptional sales rally materials and funny video reels for their internal teams.  Unfortunately for the rest of us, this condiment war is really bland. 

http://consumerist.com/2015/04/16/heinz-frenchs-go-after-each-others-flagship-condiment-with-new-mustard-ketchup-offerings/

photo : consumerist.com

The Power of Frugality

While enjoying a lazy afternoon with The Allens,  I look up and we are watching Power Rangers Dino Charge.

I think they spent $5 on production. :/

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A guy who worked for me once said, “The problem with this place is people have Louis Vuitton taste and a TJ Maxx budget.”

This sucessful franchise reminds us marketers to keep overhead and non-working dollars low and not to spend more than necessary to keep the end user satified.

Breakfast @ The Bell

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These new Biscuit Breakfast Tacos seem to fit Taco Bell’s business strategy, however, I am not sure it solves an unmet consumer need.  For instance, if a biscuit in taco form made messy food easier to eat or more portable, it would be a great innovation…ala the breakfast burrito.

I’m not sure what problem this solves.

Let’s see what happens. They may sell like hotcakes. 😉

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-taco-bell-biscuit-taco-20150324-story.html

photo: LA Times