Brand and nature: fresh produce - Strategic Brand Management

Many mass-consumption food product brands were born through the disappearance of fresh produce in bulk. Sweet corn, peas and gherkins were all canned, giving birth to Green Giant, Saupiquet, d’Aucy, Amora, Bonduelle and so on. Findus was the first brand to freeze vegetables. FleuryMichon produced plastic-wrapped ham. The big brands were therefore born through providing progress and practicality, precisely connected to the removal of the vagaries of fresh produce and the drawback of its perishable nature.

Why should businesses try to build their brands?

There are many advantages to businesses that build successful brands. These include:

  • Higher prices.
  • Higher profit margins.
  • Better distribution.
  • Customer loyalty.

Businesses that operate successful brands are also much more likely to enjoy higher profits. A brand is created by augmenting a core product with distinctive values that distinguish it from the competition. This is the process of creating brand value.

All products have a series of “core benefits” – benefits that are delivered to all consumers. For example:

  • Watches tell the time
  • CD-players play CD’s
  • Toothpaste helps prevent tooth decay
  • Garages dispense petrol.

Consumers are rarely prepared to pay a premium for products or services that simply deliver core benefits – they are the expected elements of that justify a core price. Successful brands are those that deliver added value in addition to the core benefits. These added values enable the brand to differentiate itself from the competition. When done well, the customer recognizes the added value in an augmented product and chooses that brand in preference.

For example, a consumer may be looking for reassurance or a guarantee of quality in a situation where he or she is unsure about what to buy. A brand like Mercedes, Sony or Microsoft can offer this reassurance or guarantee. Alternatively, the consumer may be looking for the brand to add meaning to his or her life in terms of lifestyle or personal image. Brands such as Nike, Porsche or Timberland do this.

Innovation in fresh produce

We are present at a major event among small retailers in the traditional markets themselves:the emergence of fresh produce brands. Astroll past market stalls, or very early in the morning at Rung is, the world’s biggest wholesale market, is enough to show this.

Although they are a minority in number and market share, their innovative approach is clear: they have inserted themselves into the mounting campaign against poor eating habits, which advises people to eat fresh fruit and vegetables daily. Fresh produce, however, has an intrinsic variability derived from the vagaries of nature: some customers prefer more regularity and certainty. Here we find the essence of the brand, the suppression of perceived risk – here the qualitative risk of pleasure and taste.

This is what the Save tomato brand, thePhilibon melon brand from Guadeloupe and the Gillardeau oyster brand, to mention but few of the best known, have done: it is the sign of a true brand policy. It would be wrong to assume that these brands are products of communication: as always, everything began through product-related innovation. The yare based on flavor, and the shape that makes a food item either more practical or more interesting.

The Save brand is the banner under which dozens of tomato producers have joined together, united by a single desire to create superior and different product, to respect the same innovative production processes while eliminating insecticides (replaced by ladybirds), and to invent a true range of flavorful, in previously unseen forms suitable for different types of consumption (cherry tomatoes, olive tomatoes, etc). This policy of innovation is accompanied by mass-media communication: Save’s objective is for its name to be the tomato brand spontaneously cited by half the population by 2010.

Philibon, the melon from Guadeloupe, guarantees exceptional flavor all year round. MrGillardeau is the creator of an eponymous brand that has become omni present in restaurants in just a few years. The brand guarantee relates to the qualitative aspect of Gillardeau oysters, with guaranteed taste and flesh all year round, everywhere in the world. Gillardeau has built its brand through the restaurant trade, which has then rebounded into a reputation among the general oyster-eating public.

The market insight on which the brand is based comes from an understanding of the problems faced by restaurateurs, who wish to ensure a strong, risk-free experience for their customers. Top of-the-range restaurants made Gillardeau success, since these restaurants want to avoid any possible problem or disappointment with their oysters: they are committed to the pursuit of perfection. However, its market also contains the small quality brasserie, which by only offering Gillardeau oysters can reassure customers, who habitually mistrust the provenance of the oyster basket.

Furthermore, Gillardeau was able to implement a selective and controlled distribution policy, ensuring exclusivity at the wholesaler level, so that it knows exactly where it is sold and where it is not. Control over its own distribution is the first condition of the premium brand.

Wine brands

Wine may also be considered as the application of a brand to a living product. The majority of new wine consumers in France, and more particularly in other countries, justifiably expect no surprises from wine: they expect to find the same pleasurable taste each time, as with Coca-Cola. The major American successes of Yellow Tail, and also Two Bucks Chuck (wine priced at US$2, as its name suggests) and the Australian Jacob’s Creek, area specific response to this expectation.

These wines have brushed aside the codeword, since they were designed entire lyon the basis of the expectations of the modern(generally Anglo-Saxon) customer and of the distributor. They are the answer to the B to Bto C world in which we are now living. The key components of their success are these:

  • the ability to supply mass distribution in quantity (therefore reaching critical massing production terms: an end to the patchwork of small independent cooperatives, and the emergence of big capitalist groups);
  • a fruity, easy to drink flavor, designed to please consumers who generally drink beer or soft drinks, with priority given to white wine served chilled;
  • maintaining the taste of the wine from year to year, thanks to the blending of different sources;
  • the lowest production costs, thanks to legitimate innovations in productivity, which make it possible to reap higher margins, capable of largely financing their distributors;
  • investment in the brand, rather than the region, so as not to be limited in quantity, and above all to generate loyalty to a single name: the brand’s own;
  • logical grape variety: remember that modern customers are not brought up on wine;
  • the capacity to create a national sales force to visit all points of purchase and carry out promotions at point of purchase (brand visibility means the product will be picked up);
  • investment in communication to cause the brand to emerge in spontaneous awareness, and therefore set itself apart from the thousands of small wine brands;
  • the capacity for regular innovation, in order to make waves in the press and achieve good scores from juries, or in wine magazine categories;
  • labels written in English, since the wines hail from California, or Australia or New Zealand, or even from South Africa.

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