Brands and Retail Programs: Shared Learnings
Article brought to you by RDBA sponsor Trans-Ocean
As producers of the country’s best-selling brand of surimi seafood, Trans-Ocean closely tracks category sales via IRI monthly reports. We also invest in research to understand why consumers buy surimi seafood and specifically, our Crab Classic brand. Since its introduction in 1998, Crab Classic’s market share has increased steadily achieving the number one position in 2005. While early growth was the result of expanding distribution and deep promotional spending, over the past five years, Crab Classic has enjoyed consistent growth in spite of reduced promotional spending on BOGOS and other off-price features. This organic growth coincides with a decision Trans-Ocean made in 2008 to reposition Crab Classic as a healthy food product. Research conducted by Directions Research of Cincinnati, Ohio (March 2014) along with IRI scanning data, shows that consumers have responded to our healthy, quality messaging. Key learnings from our experience include the following:
Third party endorsements build brand credibility.
One of the most important decisions Trans-Ocean made in repositioning Crab Classic was to seek certification from the American Heart Association, which we gained after reducing sodium levels in the product. Subsequent research tells us that 35 percent of surimi category shoppers consider AHA certification extremely important in purchase consideration, and 66 percent find it extremely/very important. Because brand recognition in the category is extremely low (only 33 percent of users can recall the name of the brand they purchase), we believe adding the recognizable Heart-Check logo gives Crab Classic more credibility than other brands.
- Takeaway for Retail RDs: Consider whether third-party endorsements lend credibility to your programs in your key markets or help you more effectively reach a specific shopper audience that is important to your retail company. If heart health is a key concern to your shoppers, are there partnerships you can build locally with the American Heart Association?
Quality counts more than pricing.
One might expect that purchases of surimi seafood would be price driven. This might be accurate during deep-discount promotions; however, at everyday retail pricing, data shows that Crab Classic outsells other brands consistently, even when it is the higher priced option. Our packaging, which calls out healthy attributes such as fat free, low calorie, good source of protein and Omega-3, and the AHA mark, is the key differentiator that drives consumer purchase. At pricing as much as 20 percent higher than competitor brands, Crab Classic is the best seller, proving that quality and value are often more important than price.
- Takeaway for Retail RDs: Are there programs or services you’ve wanted to offer your shoppers but haven’t rolled them out due to budget constraints? Remember that shoppers will pay for something that brings value to their lives, so focus on the benefits for the cost when promoting and communicating about your services. Set aside time to review how you “package” your programs and whether your promotions need a refresh to grab your shoppers’ attention.
Lower profile brands and product categories can attract consumers with healthy messaging.
In addition to working with American Heart Association, Trans-Ocean invested in consumer advertising to encourage new consumers to try Crab Classic. Advertising in Weight Watchers magazine and on the Weight Watchers website communicated the healthy benefits and recipe ideas to an audience that had not been exposed to surimi seafood through advertising. We believe that this has helped raise the profile of the entire surimi category. IRI data has shown that when Crab Classic is not stocked in a selected retailer, that total category sales decline.
- Takeaway for Retail RDs: Many smaller brands offer nutrient-dense products that fit into your programs and health messaging. Walk your store to consider healthier options from smaller brands that are worth promoting through Dietitian’s Picks programs, in-store demos, store tours, and your other programs and services.