1. What is the current situation? The current date is March 2006 and Ann Banks, the new product marketing director of the Saxonville Sausage company has to present her plan, developed after a serious research process, for launching a national Italian sausage brand, in order for the company to achieve its profit objectives for the next fiscal year. Saxonville was a 70-year-old, family business, which produced a variety of pork sausage products. The company had the following branded products: * Bratwurst: 70% of the company’s revenues
* Breakfast sausage: 20% of revenues * Italian sausage, named Vivio: 5% of revenues * Store brand products: 5% of revenues The current situation was very appalling because both the bratwurst and the breakfast categories showed 0% sales volume increase, in addition the breakfast products resulted in a revenue loss.
The only category which showed some growth in the retail sausage market was the Italian, showing an annual rate of 9% in 2004 and 15% in 2005. Saxonville’s Italian brand, Vivio, although matched this level of category growth, it was available in only 16% of the nation’s large supermarkets.
The task of Ann Banks was to develop a national product either under the Vivio brand or as a new brand.
2. How was the research methodology determined? Develop a research design and explain what behaviors, demographics, and lifestyle components you deem important and why. The research methodology was determined by Ann Banks based upon her previous work experience. Saxonville Sausage did not know who their target consumer was and what are their needs and behaviors. So in order to link the Italian Sausage product with the „core values” of their consumers, they needed a method that combined both quantitative and qualitative research to learn everything about the target market. Banks read through the past 10 years of Saxonville’s market research results and then formed a multifunctional task force to help her developing the research design.
After a thorough meeting they decided upon a four-step research process. The first thing was the understanding of the consumer behaviors and needs through a qualitative research, then collecting reactions to different positioning ideas and finally turning the learned ideas into actual concepts, letting the consumers to prioritize and improve them. The monadic testing as a last step helped them choosing the best option based upon the purchase intent scores.
In my opinion, the research design proposed by Banks was effective in understanding the core values of Saxonville’s target audience through qualitative research techniques, but lacked some more information and quantitative data to confirm which route should be taken. It was a good idea to start by understanding the attitudes, the needs and the behaviors of the company’s customers. However, the focus groups used by Banks’ team were too homogenous and the decision to pick woman only as the target audience left half of the potential consumers’ values undiscovered.
A different but similar proposed research design would be to create focus groups similar to Banks’ study but with a more diverse demographic. Preferably diverse groups of woman and men which will vary from male and female groups, male only groups and female only groups. This is designed to bring out different conversations and ideas in each of the focus groups and present other opportunities to surface that might never have with a female only group. Other variables could be taken into consideration when assembling the current groups, such as the number of children in the household because more children a family has, more food they need to buy and their income level should also be an important issues.
Creating different groups by income level can reveal the effect of the products price on the purchase intention. Other important variables used in the qualitative research could be people’s behavioral attitudes towards Saxonville brands in general. The answers in a focus group can vary if a person is loyal to their products or haven’t heard about them at all. Other problems that often appear are that regional or national stereotypes might influence the focus groups opinions. At strong Italian sausage markets the Vivio brand can have a bigger customer value than at a part of the country where Italian brands are not so common.
Italian foods are sometimes associated with family and might influence people’s opinions positively towards the Italian brand. These are the reasons why another research design would be more suitable which should focus more deeply on the qualitative research
3. What were the research results? Select two different positioning territories identified in case Exhibit 6. Trace back through the case, using Exhibit 4 and other embedded information, to rationalize the development of these territory ideas. In the first phase Banks, with the assistance of her multi-functional team, used a Pennsylvania research facility to conduct a pilot study to get a quick understanding on what consumers were saying about Italian sausage. From this she used the information to develop guidelines to conduct the focus groups. Working with a research company they selected 103 heads-of-household women to participate in focus groups located around the country. They have chosen only women because they were considered the primary food purchasers and preparers of Italian sausage. They structured these focus groups to bring out different feelings and ideas from the women about the Italian sausages.
Then, by using a brand ladder to show how the core values lead to the attributes of the product, they identified 11 values that characterized the woman’s ideals. Summarizing we can say that most of the women work outside of the home and want to be able to prepare a home cooked meal for their families that is easy to make, tastes great and that everyone gathered around the dinner table will enjoy. Many of these women considered Italian sausage as a great „meal-maker”, and the Vivio brand was considered to be of exceptional quality. So from the 11 values they selected as a core value the “Job well done” and they wrote it at the top of the ladder.
The team then developed 4 mock up concepts and exposed consumers to them asking to vote on which one they like best. Of all the positioning territories “Family Connection” was selected as the most important one because most women expressed a strong desire to be passionate mothers and homemakers and to create happy childhood memories for their children. Exhibit 4 states that the Italian Sausage “had the same effect as popcorn at the movie theater”. This positioning would easily attract women who want to bring the family together for dinner. As the smell of popcorn draws people in, the smell of the Italian Sausage would bring the family to the table with little or no effort from the mother. Also, Saxonville Italian Sausages has a home-grown image.
This image could make a more home-made feel to the meal. This would attract mothers who want to cook a more authentic meal and create happy memories for their children opposed to a quick-and-easy frozen meal. The second most important attribute was “Clever Cooking” because consumers wanted a product that can be combined with other high quality ingredients and can be prepared in numerous ways. This gave women near the good mother feeling also a good „meal-maker”.
4. What alternative do you recommend and why? While in the fourth phase of the research – the quantitative testing – both the “Family Connection” and the “Clever Cooking” positioning option seemed viable, I would only focus on one of them. The “Family Connection” scored the better points, but very few people said that they would definitely buy the product with such positioning. The reason behind this can be that the majority of Italian foods are associated with the idea of family. Many other sausage brands are already built on the same idea.
However, if Saxonville would try a completely new association with the Italian brand, it would stand out from the crowd. Since there is no current “Clever Cooking” marketing campaign yet, it will be rather unique and harder to duplicate. With redefining the whole concept and all the marketing mix elements the company will be able to give people a new thought about Italian brands. Other aspects like creative cooking, self-confidence in their own meal and the quick and easy attribute should also be emphasized with the help of other marketing mix elements.
5. What tactics should accompany the product launch? By continuing the idea from the previous question I would say that, before launching the product, further research and pretesting should be done to create the best product possible. Additional quantitative research should focus on the different attributes of the product, like flavor varieties, different packaging forms and advertising. During pretesting the company should develop at first three innovative flavor varieties, distribute to people who took part in the focus groups and then ask them about their opinion. The brand name Vivio should be modified to Vivios, so this should be mentioned instead of Vivio Italian Sausages name, referring to all the Italian sausage products line.
The actual launch of the product has to be accompanied with a serious advertising campaign emphasizing the renaming of the brand through multiple channels: TV advertisements describing the feelings related to the “Clever Cooking” positioning, product sampling in the supermarkets and designing a cooking show, where different meals can be prepared with different type of Italian sausages. At the beginning the company should also use in-store promotions with larger packages to boost sales. Targeting cooking shows, recipe books and various other types of elements in the cooking industry will bring more credibility and substance to the brand. The new “Clever Cooking” experience should be presented and emphasized everywhere together with the Italian feeling.