Can I patent my recipe? – Typically No!

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Beyond patents

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4 Ways to Raise Pricing and Delight Customers

Most companies loathe or mismanage the harsh reality that pricing increases are often necessary to offset inflation, even with the most diligent cost control.     Often, this is a painful across the board price percentage increase on all units, on largely unchanged products and services.     Here are five great ways to drive price increases that consumers will willingly accept, and, even enhance loyalty to your company.tide_pods
1.   Innovate to improve the customer’s user experienceTide Pods is a brilliant innovation that makes washing clothes more convenient, portable, and less messy.    The idea is grounded in solving problems and consumer irritants in the category    Tide virtually reinvented laundry detergent from the customer’s perspective of easily, and properly doing a load of laundry.    Pricing impact:   +10-15% increase per load, plus a more space efficient configuration, which reduces distribution expenses.

2.  Resize to meet changing consumer preferences –   As consumers are trying to reduce their consumption of soft drinks and/or improve their portion control, Coke has come to their rescue with their new, appealing 7 1/2 ounce cans, ostensibly for consumers to choose versus 12 ounce cans.   150114_EM_PayMoreLessSoda And consumers are delighted; sales volume is up 9% according to the Wall Street Journal, while paying nearly double – yes double – the price per ounce for these cute cans.     Yes, this is an exaggerated, albeit successful example, but the bigger point is that Coke is re-evaluating serving sizes from a consumer perspective and looking at pricing on a price per ounce vs. price per unit basis.
3.   Innovate for new usage occasions –  Similarly, Crystal Light did this brilliantly by adding smaller On-The-Go packages, specifically designed to enhance the staple 8 oz.Crystal Light brand water bottle, again at a +100% price premium versus their traditional make a gallon at home package.    Lest you forget to buy these in the supermarket, they are brilliantly merchandised in convenience stores and gyms, right at your (now enhanced) water bottle point of purchase.

4.  Adjust product mix and package sizes –  Cereal and snack companies master the ability to change their product size mix and selectively reduce the amount of product in certain packages.     This can often mask direct comparisons versus the previous product line up and  pricing.    Further, you can strategically promote your more profitable package sizes more frequently, again, driving an effective price increase that is often invisible, and/or preferred by the consumer.

Lessons Learned:
1.   Think of pricing in broader terms than price per unit.     Price per ounce, price per pound, price per consumer usage occasion give you far more latitude for consumer-accepted price increases.
2.   Solve consumers’ most nagging problems in a product improvement or innovation and they’ll pay for that privilege.   Increasing convenience or reducing waste are among two widespread benefits that consumers will pay for.
3.   Build an expectation of gross margin enhancement into your innovation program and project selection criteria.

5 Hottest Food Trends at Expo West |

We were delighted to appear in The Ohio State University’s Food Innovation Center Blog:

Expo West

Natural Products Expo West 2014 was an incredible show of natural, organic, and healthy food and beverage manufacturing, ingredients, and in many ways – the future of the food industry, given that healthier food has moved from trend to societal shift. The natural, organic and healthy products food industry is growing nearly three times higher than the food industry average, per Penton. I had the privilege of attending with 67,000 of my closest friends and 2,600 exhibitors. Expo West was an enlightening window to emerging food industry trends.

 1. Gluten-free continues to explode, up 20% versus last year, driven by perceived health benefits and better diagnosing of celiac disease. New brands, new food categories, and Gluten-freeimproved organoleptics were virtually everywhere. Per NPD, 30% of consumers want to reduce the amount of gluten they are eating, and gluten-free foods’ household penetration has leaped to 11%, more than doubling since 2010, per Nielsen. The tidal wave is projected to continue as the foodservice sector (restaurants and institutions) catches up with consumer demand at retail. Even Pillsbury has jumped into the space with gluten-free dough (et tu, Doughboy?) as has Columbus’ Donato’s with its gluten-free Donato’s and Sonoma Flatbreads brands. Gluten-free is projected to grow by 22% annually through 2016, per Mintel.

2.  Non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) verified food offerings have tripled since last year, in response to growing consumer demand, as well as organic manufacturers’  non-gmo efforts. Regardless of where you stand on the contentious GMO discussion, consumers are responding. 93% of Americans said that foods that have been genetically modified or engineered should be identified, per a recent New York Times poll and non-GMO has recently surpassed ‘organic’ among consumers’ desired food claims. Whole Foods’ requirement of GMO labeling on all products in U.S. and Canada by 2018, will also drive non-GMO consumer awareness. Promising, except only 11% of consumers say they are willing to pay more.

Non-GMO food and beverages are projected to grow at a 13% compound annual growth rate for the next few years and account for 30% of retail sales by 2017, even without mandatory labeling, per Packaged Facts. General Mills, Smart Balance, Ben and Jerry’s, Chipotle, and Kashi have all taken proactive stances on GMOs by either eliminating them or pushing for increased labeling. To help manufacturers and consumers with product and ingredient sourcing, the verification body, the Non-GMO Project has established a centralized database. Buckeye brag: Marzetti launched Mamma Bella GMO free garlic breads, led by Fisher alum Adam Koenigsberg.

3. Proteins, Popcorn, Chia and Kale were prevalent in multiple categories. New protein-rich or enhanced products targeted to consumers who are reducing or eliminating red Popcorn Indiana brand(or all) meat from their diets included yogurts (whey and soy proteins), snack bars (almond and pea protein isolate), and pancakes (oats, quinoa, and whey). Popcorn, with its better-for-you consumer perception, was featured by over 25 companies in every mainstream and exotic flavor. Most intriguing were Popcorn Indiana’s fit brand, positioned as a low-calorie option, and chip’ins, a popcorn-based extruded snack chip. Chia continues to be a hot omega-3 rich and filling superfood in many bars, yogurts, drinks, as well as seeds alone. And kale, which has grown four-fold since 2008, is the hot supergreen in raw snacks, chips, sauces, dressings, and disturbingly: macaroons.

4. More Funding, Investments and Acquisitions – The health and wellness segment’s rapid growth is attracting interest and investment from multiple sources. Major food Food_Acquisitionscompanies are penetrating the segment via acquisition and joint ventures, such as Coca-Cola (Zico and Honest Tea). Heinz (Hain Celestial), and Campbell Soup (Plum Organics), and the sector has become a darling of private equity leaders such as Sherbrooke Capital (Angie’s Popcorn) and Alliance Consumer Growth (EVOL brand). There is also an explosion of funding available for smaller companies through food incubators and crowd-funding platforms, with over 25 new food and agriculture funding sources launched last year. This foretells both continued growth among increasingly well-capitalized companies, as well as improved product quality and rate of innovation.

5.  Local Participation –  Ohio was well represented by many of our friends at 19 companies. In addition to the aforementioned Marzetti and Donato’s, Almondina, Avitae, Bunker Ohio StateHill Cheese (Heini’s), Eurochoc Americas Corp., Fit Organic, Fremont Authentic Brands, Garden of Flavor, Gaslamp Popcorn (Rudolph Foods), Graeter’s, Herbal Science, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, 1-2-3 Gluten Free, R.A.W. Real and Wonderful, Swurves (Mike-Sells), Trophy Nut, Unistraw, and Wyandot Snacks exhibited, all of whom we expect are gearing up for the surge in new business… and hiring talented Buckeyes.”

Meet the Expert

Tammy Katz is an Adjunct Professor of Brand Management at the Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University, and Chief Executive Officer of Katz Marketing Solutions, a marketing and brand management consulting firm. She is particularly interested in brand management, marketing strategy, commercialization, corporate outreach, and consumer-driven innovation.

Samsung’s Strategic Apple Smackdown

Samsung continues to brilliantly challenge, and deposition, the Apple brand in its newest Galaxy S4 advertising campaign. Reminiscent of Apple‘s classic “I’m a Mac. I’m a PC” strategy, in which Apple strategically portrays IBM as inferior, old, and tired, Samsung contemporizes that idea by showing itself as the superior, younger, and cooler option. This continues Samsung’s successful strategy of demonstrating wins on brand performance and image vs. Apple that it has employed for several years.

It’s working beautifully, particularly at a time when Apple has finally shown some vulnerability. In fact, according to Interbrand‘s recent Best Global Brands report, Samsung was the biggest rising star in brand valuation – up 40% versus the prior year, now placing it as the world’s 9th most valuable brand. In addition, Samsung has grabbed the #1 market share position in smartphones, jumping ahead of Apple and Nokia. According to Ad Age, Samsung’s market share jumped to 30%, up 9 percentage points vs. the prior year, partly at Apple’s expense, who lost 2 share points. Beyond portraying Samsung’s users as far more savvy, bright, and aspirational, the campaign also persuasively communicates several of Samsung’s feature and performance advantages.

Samsung’s innovation and communication strategy beautifully position themselves as a leader, while strategically redefining the competitive brand as an inferior option.

Lessons learned:
1. Brand challengers can effectively surpass the leader by building brand performance and image superiority. The strategy works particularly well when you win on the primary benefits that drive brand selection and loyalty.
2. Exploit your competitors’ weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Even the most dominant brands have ‘chinks in the armor’ that you can exploit.
3. Innovate quickly and often. Market leaders often innovate and execute more slowly, deliberately, and have higher volume hurdles.

Marketing Innovation: How to be among the Successful 5%

Marketing innovation is a key source of revenue and profit growth, as well as a great opportunity to strengthen your brand and competitive advantage. Most companies’ annual plans rely on marketing innovation. According to Ernst & Young and BASES, only 5% of U.S. new products are successful. These are the seven Best Practices, including the avoidable common mistakes, among successful innovation companies:

1. Set Innovation Goals and Accountability – This is a simple idea, but it is often overlooked. Successful innovators consistently set clear innovation goals, specifically:

• Sales, profit, and payback goals for the entire Innovation effort (all products and services), typically for a one-year or five-year timeframe and
• Sales, profit and payback hurdles for each project to merit consideration
• Both Marketing and Product Development have inter-dependent accountability for delivering these goals

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2. Demonstrate project viability before committing resources – Each potential new product should have demonstrable financial viability and market need before resources are allocated. This simple step is skipped with alarming consistency and is a major cause of downstream profitability problems and innovation failures. Answer these two questions at the Idea stage:
• Is the product financially viable? Insist on reviewing crude Year 1 and Ongoing (typically Year 3) Profit & Loss statements on each proposed project. This demonstrates whether the project is financially worthy of being considered, needs rework, or should be thrown out. The Year 1 P&L is important to understand the potential investment issues. The Ongoing P&L illustrates the ongoing business model.
• Is there a true consumer unmet need for the product? You must be able to answer: 1) who is the target; 2) what is the relevant consumer benefit? (Note that it must be an important, motivating benefit to consumers, not a “nice to have,’ lower value benefit) 3) how is it superior to competition? When you launch a new product or service, you are betting that consumers will change their existing purchasing behaviors and choose you. You must be superior to their current options and solve issues they care about. Be sure. Ask your target market.

2. Leverage True Core Competencies – The most successful innovators exploit what they can and do best. They wisely avoid areas where they lag competitors. Innovation winners have a deeper self-knowledge of core competencies than the superficial “leader in X industry.” The Management Team has rigorously evaluated and determined their best internal processes, to find what they do, or realistically can do, better than their competitors. For example, Frito-Lay fully understands and leverages its store-door delivery, manufacturing, and snack innovation core competencies. Conversely, even uber-performer Frito-Lay has made the costly error of presuming snack food brilliance would translate to success in the very different cookie industry. Play from strength. Know and stick to your core competencies.

3. Drive Collaboration to Optimize Outcomes – Extraordinary innovation results consistently occur when R&D, Marketing and Operations collaborate and continue to improve the idea throughout its evolution. Continue reading

5 Ways to Maintain Brand Growth and Relevance: StarKist’s Revitalization Strategy

StarKist‘s marketing strategy is a rich example of maintaining brand relevance and accelerating profitable growth.    Despite having some significant brand challenges:  a mature category, a mature brand, dated brand equities, and pricing challenges, their strategy is spectacular and effective.

Here are the 5 brand revitalization best practices they’ve nailed:

1.   Maintain a clear, consistent, and relevant brand positioning  –  StarKist’s brand’s positioning is the best brand of high quality, nutritious tuna.   This has been a virtual constant for over 60 years.   Consistency is relatively easy, but maintaining relevance over time is more difficult and even treacherous, if you don’t do it.    They have brilliantly adapted, but not radically changed, the brand positioning to ‘the best brand of high quality satiating nutritious tuna.’     That transformative “tweak” moves pre-packaged tuna from dated and increasingly irrelevant, to a brand that is contemporary, appealing and compelling for today’s consumer.

  

Continue reading

The Chobani brand Yogurt Coup: Reinvent the Category

We applaud Chobani‘s explosion to +$900 million in annual sales since its 2007 startup by attacking the yogurt category with a truly differentiated and superior brand.    Not only have they catapulted to stardom, they’ve even beat the brilliant, entrenched competitors, like Yoplait (General Mills) and Dannon.    They’re among the elite brands, like WhiteStrips, Swiffer, Apple, and Dyson who invent and dominate new category segments by reinventing their category.   

First, Chobani designed a much better product.    Their CEO and founder, Hamdi Ulukaya, thought American yogurt was horrible and developed a premium, Greek-style yogurt, which is thicker, creamier, more protein, less sweet, and has a healthier perception.   They challenged many of the conventional approaches of what product design seemed to drive the category.

They also rethought pricing and price/value.   Continue reading