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Planning and Launching a New Brand

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The development of any new product or brand requires careful management. This requires starting out with an understanding of the market and the identification of the target market to whom our new goods would be attractive. The Mission of The Iams Company is to enhance the well-being of dogs and cats by providing world-class foods. Nutrition that makes a difference through a Complete feeding System who uses the slogan “Iams is Good for Life”. The Iams company wants to launch a new brand of cat food believing they have found a gap in the market.

The idea is the development of a new dry cat food, which can be used as a complete cat food or as a supplement to existing feedings. This is differentiated as it is a vegetarian1 cat food. There are no other vegetarian cat foods on the market, but there are vegetarian dog foods that gain a good level of sales. The company want this to be a brand rather than only a single product, there will be different flavours, the range of offerings may also be extended to cat treats, cat milk, and possibly even cat toys.

The company first needs to consider who the target market is, this will determine not only how the product is developed but also the perceptions that need to be considered when developing the logo and the marketing campaign. The food has been created for cats, however, cats are not consumers, it is the cat owners who will be buying the product and it is these owners we need to appeal to. Product differentiation, described in our book (pg 231) as “a positioning strategy… used to distinguish their products from those of competitors”, can provide this reason and also a competitive advantage.

The first target market may be owners who themselves are vegetarian’s, and who want their pets to follow a similar diet. However, by increasing the vegetarian market we would still be in a limited market, the number of vegetarians in many areas is unknown, as such to concentrate only in this market may be limiting potential sales. The increased awareness of nutritional needs of cats may indicate a complimentary target market. Although suitable as a complete food, this may also be marketed as a food to compliment cat foods containing meat to give cats a healthy and varied diet.

Now we have two target markets, one is a niche market, aiming at the vegetarians, the other is as a complimentary food to the mainstream market, with the format making this an easy way to give a cat a more balanced diet. Therefore, the first determinant of the target market is likely to be the status of the owner as a vegetarian, however, this alone does not give us much of a picture of the potential buyers, not enough to develop a marketing campaign and the logo. TO do this, we need to look at segmentations in the current market.

As we learned, segmenting is the division of the consumer base, or potential consumer base, into categories where there are similar characteristics. There are a number of ways a market can be segmented but I think we will start with segmenting by demographics. We can divide the market by characteristics such as age, gender or even ethnic background. If we look at all cat owners we will need to make some assumptions like the majority will be between 25 – 75, and although there are male and female cat owners, in my house anyway, it is more often the females that will make the buying decisions as a art of their shopping.

We also could consider the use of geographic location or even characteristics such as occupation, income and education or we could look at using consumer life cycle stages, looking at factors such as marital status and if they have any children that we could appeal to. These are all objective measures, but could also use some subjective measures as well such as personality inventories, which can provide us with some insight to personal values, such as those who value fair trade or US made brands, and even owner lifestyle may be used to categorise buyers into groups with common traits.

With these concepts and possibly the use of psychographics we can get a clearer picture of our target market. So with this information we will choose the profile of vegetarian cat owners to be those with a middle to upper level income and education. The ability and desire to purchase a vegetarian cat food is highly differentiated which can mean or be indicative of a possible premium in the price of this product so this will also need to appeal to those with an average or above average disposable income. This market will be able to afford the product. The market and the target market all need to match.

The values of this market are also very important, it is personal beliefs and values that have lead many in the target market to be vegetarians, which belies a belief and value in the well being of animal rights and animal welfare. The secondary market is the supplementary market, this could and is likely to have a similar profile in terms of demographics, but it is also a potentially bigger market and I think will be more likely to represent more of the “main stream” of cat owners – those who will pay extra to ensure the well being and good diet of their cats.

The psychographics are very different, the marketing and logos need to be acceptable and appeal to both of these markets to gain a duel market presence. The brand is going to be called “Caring Cat” this is indicative of values for caring for an about animal. It is not overtly vegetarian but can be indicated. The logo needs to appeal to the values of both markets. Because Iams uses pictures of cats in various activities, we will design this logo using an older looking cat that will be sitting with a clump of grass each side, the grass on one side longer than the other side. The cat can be playing with a paw reaching the long piece of grass.

This will have appeal as it is clear there is a cat link and help to identify with the human eye on only a quick glance that this is an Iams product and will help stimulate recognition between the brand and the product on the shelf. The use of grass on either side of the cat represents a cat in a natural environment, that I think that for a vegetarian, may be interpreted as a signal of the vegetarian content when the marketing takes place. For the non vegetarians it could also be viewed that the product will be good and wholesome with natural ingredients and also gives the impression of a very happy cat as it is playing.

This may also infer that the cat is healthy and a link can be made with the food. The rest of the elements we can review as part of the marketing mix. To develop the plan we need to consider the target market and the four P’s; product placement price and promotion. The first P, product, looks at various characteristics as the range and variety of the product, the quality of the product, the features that it offers, the use of brand names, the sizes it may be offered in, the services that may come with it as well as warranties that may be given and any returns issues and packaging.

Packaging needs to give a strong differentiation that links to the current demand for goods with the target market. For this we can look to the packaging design because this is how the customer first interacts with a product or products, both mentally and physically. In an increasingly competitive environment we need to gain a competitive advantage to give the buyer a strategic reason to buy our product rather than that of one of our competitor’s. The packaging of a dry product has often been in bags and boxes that can be difficult to hold and are also difficult to store.

For this product we are going to sell the dry food in plastic container or tub, where there is a lid that can be resealed and is also easy to hold, for smaller tubs it will be the use of packaging where there is a slight indentation on the tub to make it easier to hold. For the larger tubs there will be the same shape, but these will also come with a scoop or measuring devise so that the container does not lead to be lifted, which could be useful for older owners. Placement needs to be considered next. The placement is a large area for us to have to consider.

We will need to take a look at the channels of distribution, the coverage and also the assortments of this product in different locations as well as inventory and transportation. The distribution of pet foods has been changing like everything else. In the past many specialty products would have been distributed through specialist stores. However these stores are unable to compete with the larger superstores and discount outlets, where there are economies of scale. However, I don’t think we want to ignore some of the smaller pet stores and retail outlets.

Another distribution channel for the vegetarian buyers is through any vegetarian stores which are niche market stores but also where the pet food may be purchased. This indicates that there needs to be a concentration of the mainstream outlets, supermarkets discount stores and large pet stores. There is also the need to ensure that where the stock is carried there is sufficient choice to gain and maintain the customers businesses. I think we need to consider promotion as the most important of the four P’s at the beginning of the product lifecycle.

No matter how good the product and price or how extensive and well planned the placement is, unless the consumer knows about the product there will be only a few sales. Here is where we will also need to consider the wholesalers as well as the end users. Because we want to get the attention of the wholesalers and retailers as well as the public, we will have to aim at both of these markets if we want to get a full range of distribution. There are many ways we can advertise this product because of our name recognition alone, however, because of the speciality of this product, we may only have curiosity in our initial awareness campaign.

Advertisements will be placed in the trade press, in the bottom right hand corners of pages, with a picture of the back of a cat, the same black cat that is to be used in the logo, but in a different position, sitting and looking up intently, apparently at something. Above the top of the advertisement, saying; “If you want to be a part of the new cat food taste sensation contact your local xxxx dealer today”. Two pages later we can follow this up with a call before it is to late notice and the same images so that if the first advertisement was missed there is a second chance.

The smaller advertisement will have the same cat looking up. Next we need to consider the promotion to the average consumer. When it comes to the purchase of goods for someone other than ourselves we, as the marketer, need to be cognizant of the motivation to make the individual purchase. There may be many motivations (from pages 173 & 174), a product may be bought due to emotions such as fear, love or greed. For cat owners there may be love as a major motivator, but there may be other things such as values to be considered as well.

Greed probably won’t be considered here as greed tends to be related to purchases made for oneself, but regardless, in all aspects of a purchase the consumer needs to feel good about the purchase they made, gaining some level of satisfaction about buying it. For example, when a parent buys their kids some candy, they could be doing it for love, gaining gratifying from seeing the child happy (or just shutting him up). Likewise, buying healthy food for an animal is also an emotional purchase, it is a meeting of the nutritional needs, providing the animal with a healthy diet.

When things are bought for a loved one, they may be bought with the expectation of an exchange or to bring happiness. Likewise, they may be from fear, such as the buying of low fat foods if there is fear of having a heart attack. We will also need to consider the emotional attachment when selling vegetarian cat food. This is a challenge and we need to evoke some similar reactions of love and care. The self satisfaction is a limited motivator as with some pets, there may not be a great difference in the foods they are willing to eat.

In the launch of the marketing campaign there will be television, poster and print advertisements. There will need to be images to provoke emotions to motivate a purchase. We may use the image of a child eating a good balanced meal, with a line such as you look after little Tommy/Jenny making sure that he Tommy has a balanced diet, do you do the same for his best friend? “, at that point pulling the camera out to show a cat looking up adoringly at little Tommy or Jenny. This will evoke emotions.

The camera can then show the cat happy eating, with line such as “Caring Cat gives a cat all the nourishment he needs, just like Tommy, the cat (inserting a name) is eating his vegetables, and doesn’t even know it”. The picture can then pull out again to the family with the line such as “suitable as a complete meal, or just to make sure that xxx gets ALL the nutrition he needs, to be as healthy as little Tommy (Jenny)”. The advertisement will also need to have a line such as the great tasting vegetable cat food. The term vegetarian has not been used due to the potential negative connotations that non-vegetarians may associate with the term.

However, the vegetarians will be able to recognise the meaning and this can also be accompanied by a vegetarian symbol similar to what is found on human food that probably won’t be noticed by the non vegetarians. This could then be backed up with a second advisement, with a cat, but this time appearing that we are hearing the cats thoughts, talking to another animal, possibly another cat or another animal, he may be saying how lively he feels, even though he just had a meal, not feeling tired and bloated, but energetic and lively.

The same message with the last line of the first advisement will be used to get a unified message. In this way we have both the emotional association with health and the food as well as the second more direct impression that this food will benefit the cat. The campaign is showing the purchaser how using this cat food will benefit the family, including the child as well as the cat. The images will also include showing the food from the packet being out in the bowl, showing how easy it is to use and store and as such show more benefits to support the initial message.

Showing the distinctive container will also help the product recognition in the store where it will on the shelves. The promotion may also be accompanied by a money off coupon in the newspapers to try the product, or coupons clipped to the store shelves may contain a money back offer if your cat does not love the food. The initial aim will be to get customers to make a purchase, as repeat purchase may then be more likely. In store displays can also be provided to support sales as these will also allow an association between the advertising and the product seen on the shelf.

For the vegetarian market we may also extend the marketing to some of the specialist newsprint such as vegetarian magazines or newspapers where the food has the same message, meaning it is not marketed only to the niche market, it is a mainstream product, but one that is suitable for vegetarians pets. We also have to consider the pricing model. Pricing may be an issue when it comes to buyers choosing a cat food, with convenience and selection also playing a part. Because pricing is only a part of the product mix, we are hoping that all things are considered as well as the differentiation at the entry level.

When we set the price, we will need to consider not only the price that will be paid by the consumer, but also the potential size of the discounts and to build in any payment terms that the company is going to allow for the wholesalers. There also needs to be a price set that will allow a mark up for the distribution channels, otherwise there won’t be any incentive for them to stock the product. Even in a market where there are hard economic conditions it is possible to under price a product.

We need to be careful of this because we might give off the wrong impression by making the product appear cheaper than it is and with this there might be an association with lower quality. Therefore, to price the product too low will change the consumer perception of the product. This is the same for the mass market where we view there being greatest demand that they might respond negatively to a price that is set too low. If the price is set too high this will also put some consumers off of the product, believing it to be too expensive.

However, unlike a price that is too low there will not be a perception of low quality, and as such this is a mistake that we can more easily rectify with special offers. There is the need to offer some value, as such it may be priced not at the bottom of the mass market, but more to the centre of the market. Promotion will get the first usage for a consumer, and after this trial phase, the higher end of the pricing model for this upper mass market may then become acceptable. Therefore this equates to an acceptable customer cost, where there is a feeling of quality and value.

Because this plan was started when the product was developed, meaning that the concepts and timing are all set, the budget is ready and the launch can be prepared for January, with the aim of gaining a high level of brand awareness for Caring Cat brand. This will lead to the establishment of the brand, the association with healthy nutrition will differentiate it as well as the easy storage and easy to identify logo. This will also place the product in a position where there can be the extension of the brand when the market is ready.

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