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Saxonville is a national brand producing fresh pork sausage products. Its two main products are bratwurst and breakfast sausages. However, in recent years, both bratwurst and breakfast sausage have shown flat growth across all producers, suggesting that the market for these products has reached saturation. On the other hand, Italian Sausage is a new and fast-growing product in the US markets and more and more households are increasingly buying Italian Sausage resulting in a steady growth in this market. Saxonville produces Italian Sausages under the brand name Vivio, a name chosen specifically to give the product an Italian feel.
Currently, Vivio is only available in 16% of large supermarkets, primarily in the Northeastern US. None of the competitors have a national brand in the Italian Sausage market. Saxonville hopes to introduce Italian Sausage nationally and exploit the rapidly growing market for the product. Since there are no other national brands operating in the Italian Sausage market, Saxonville can benefit from the first-mover advantage.
Competition in the Italian Sausage market is only in regional markets where competitors position their products either as “authentic Italian heritage” or as “freshly and locally grown”. While some competitors have invested a little in advertising, Saxonville has so far not advertised its Italian Sausage brand. However, if it hopes to launch the product nationally, it will need to position its product so as to attract the target consumers.
Research has shown that the female heads-of-household are the primary purchasers of Italian Sausage. These women are pressed for time and so often use pre-packaged food for dinner. However, not cooking proper meals for their family made them feel guilty and would prefer an option that would allow them to cook wholesome meals for the whole family. In focus groups, it became clear that all those who had used Italian sausage felt that it made it easier to cook a tasty and wholesome dinner with little effort.
These women cooked family dinners 93% of the time. They and their families, including children, tended to love meals prepared using the product. Many women mentioned that Italian Sausage was a very versatile ingredient that they could add to anything and quickly create a meal. Italian sausage ranked highly in both ease of cooking and taste preference. As far as Saxonville’s Italian sausage brand Vivio was concerned, all users felt that it was of exceptionally high quality and had great taste. This is good news for Saxonville because Vivio is priced comparably with competitive products. This means that if customers can get better quality for the same value, they are more likely to pick Vivio.
5/6 Step Consumer Search Process
The 5/6 step consumer search process starts with Need Recognition and ends with Post-purchase behavior and the customer’s decision to buy the product again or not. Several factors, both internal and external, help the consumer recognize their need for a product. Internal need for a product could be driven by a variety of factors including the various factors listed in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
A person’s need for self-fulfillment, status, respect, friendship, belonging, safety needs and even basic physiological needs of food, water and air directly or indirectly influence everybody’s purchase decisions, provided they have the resources to meet their needs. The decision to purchase Italian sausage satisfies both the basic physiological need of food as well as higher-level needs like belonging, love, respect and even self-actualization.
This is because, as seen in the surveys, Italian sausage allows women to prepare homemade meals with little effort. Time constraints often force women to choose pre-packaged dinner over home-cooked meals, resulting in a feeling of guilt. Since Italian Sausage allows them to cook wholesome meals at home, it gives them a sense of fulfillment. The fact that most people usually like meals cooked with Italian sausage means that the woman cooking the meal also gets the love and respect of family members. And because cooking meals using Italian sausage takes little time, it allows women to spend more time with their families and bond with them.
Among the external stimuli of need, recognition is advertisements and friends. Advertisements and friends make people aware of a product and its uses and thus create a need for a product, sometimes where none existed before. In the case of Italian sausage, customers could have learned about quick and easy meal solutions from friends or may have family recipes that mention Italian sausage and resulting in the need for the product.
The second step is searching for information about the product. This could be both internal or external and deliberate or accidental. If the consumer has used a product before, then the memory of the past use is often enough information. On the other hand, if a product is new, the customer may research extensively to ensure that he or she actually needs the product or not. The amount of time and effort invested in such a search depends on a variety of factors including the cost and importance of the product being researched.
So while consumers may spend a lot of time researching before buying a car, potato chips are often bought on impulse. For Italian sausage, this external information could have been gathered from family or friends, through advertisements or through store placements. The product packaging is also an important source of information.
The thirds step in consumer search before buying a product is comparing the product with alternatives. This step is a continuation of information search and helps the consumer decide among the various available alternatives. This often involves carrying out a cost versus benefit analysis of various available alternatives. Italian sausage is an ingredient for cooking dinner. However, it is not the only ingredient and women have a number of other options. Compared to pre-packaged meals, Italian sausage is much harder to cook, but provides the cook with satisfaction and fulfillment. On the other hand, compared to homemade spaghetti, Italian sausage provides a much easier alternative. So the consumer will have to look at the trade-offs for various alternatives before making the decision to purchase.
Once the various alternatives have been properly evaluated, the consumer can easily make the decision on what to purchase. However, for a product to become successful it is important to have repeat customers or they should be willing to tell friends and families about a product. So the post-purchase consumer behavior also becomes important and it depends almost entirely on the quality of the product. Marketing get helps to get the customers to a product, but the quality will help retain them.
The “Balance” concept is good positioning for Saxonville’s Italian sausage because, for the busy modern woman, the biggest challenge is to come up with nutritious meals for the entire family on a daily basis. Most modern women think of cooking as just another chore and the kitchen is not considered a place to discover creativity. Other concepts would have appealed to the women of a generation ago, but for the modern woman having a number of nutritious options is far more important than spending time with the family or coming up with creative cooking ideas. The “Balance” concept could also include the ease with which meals can be prepared using Saxonville’s Italian sausage so that the busy women can think of Saxonville’s brand as an easy to prepare and nutritious meal for the family.
If Saxonville hopes to take its Italian sausage brand to national consumers, it must invest substantially in TV marketing. The “balance” positioning stated above will help get the brand national recognition. However, just being aware of the product may not be enough to make people switch or adopt it. Hence, Saxonville could place in-store sales representatives who could give free samples and even cooking tips and ideas.
The packaging itself could include free recipes and cooking tips to help women come with new uses for the product. While the product need not be positioned as a versatile cooking option, the versatility should be emphasized to ensure repeat customers who may want to use the product for different kinds of dishes on different occasions. Finally, in the initial stages, Saxonville might want to give discounts to its customers so that more customers will try the product. Once the customers are hooked to it, Saxonville can raise the prices. These simple marketing strategies will help Saxonville quickly raise a strong customer base and help it exploit this untapped market.
Solomon, M. R. (2008). Consumer behavior: Buying, having, and being. Upper Saddle River, US: Pearson Education.
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