Get off my land! Leading vs. Poacher Brands (Part 1)

"Get off my land!" is a phrase shouted by farmers, shotgun in hand, when poachers try to trespass. Leading Brands need to do the same thing when new "Poacher Brands” trespass onto their territory.

In the next 2 posts we’ll look at examples of leading brands trying to repel the threat of new Poacher Brands.In this first post, we introduce some criteria to assess the likely effectiveness of the brand leaders’ reaction, and look at two examples that may have problems: Kellogg’s Nature’s Pleasure and Red Sky from Walkers/Lays. In the next post we’ll look in detail at a response that may work better, Tropicana’s premium range, and give some conclusions.

The following criteria are used to the likely effectiveness of the leaders’ reaction:
1. Credibility: does it have authority?
2. Value proposition: is offering a better price and/or quality?
3. Speed of reaction: how quick does the leader fight back?
4. Business model benefits: any leadership edge to use, such as distribution power?

Low chance of success: Kellogg's Nature's Pleasure vs. Dorset Cereals?
Dorset Cereals market premium muesli in the UK, and the brand grew from £4m in 2004 to £30m in 2007.  The key to this success has been distinctive packaging, which portrays the image of a small, family-run company in the country. [In reality, it was grown by a private equity company before being sold last year 😉 ] The product is also distinctive, thanks to the addition of little flakes that add some crunch.

Kellogg's response is "Kellogg's Nature's Pleasure".

1. Credibility: This feels a bit half-cooked. The Kellogg's branding drags it back into the mainstream, and the cute cartoons feel a bit forced (4/10)
2.Value proposition: in quality terms, feels like a poor copy of Dorset, lacking the quality cues and authenticity.
3. Speed of response: this response comes late in the day, after Dorset have been able to create a loyal base of consumers who buy into the brand (4/10)
4. Business model: Kellogg’s does have huge scale, which should help with costs. But I don’t see much in the way of advantage. (5/10)
Total: /40

Medium chance of success: Red Sky (Walkers/Lays) vs. Kettle Chips
Kettle Chips is another example of a small business that has grown through distinctive packaging, great product and premium pricing. These potato chips are hand cooked, and have interesting, foodie flavours such as “Sea Salt and Black Peppercorn”.

Walkers, the UK’s leading brand of potato chips, responded in 2009 with the launch of a new brand, Red Sky. In contrast to Kellogg’s approach, there is no use of the leading brand name.
1. Credibility: This feels more credible, and is helped by the lack of any visible Walkers branding. The “sky” device evokes rural roots. But, this is a brand new brand that will have to earn credibility (6/10)
2.Value proposition: product/pack is OK, but doesn’t really offer any added value versus Dorset, or other more authentic premium brands like Tyrells. Also, the pricing is 10% above Kettle, with a 40g bag costing 59p compared with Kettle's 53p. Ouch, this feels a big ask (4/10)

3. Speed of response: again, this response comes late in the day. Kettle have a decent following. And Tyrells was bought by the same private equity company that invested in Dorset (4/10)
4. Business model: here is where Walkers might have an edge. They can draw on Pepsico’s distribution muscle to get Red Sky into supermarkets, and out of home channels. Visiting Leeds Castle with my family last week, I saw that Red Sky was the only brand on sale (7/10)
Total: 21/40

Get off my land! Leading vs. Poacher Brands (Part 2)
In the last post we looked at how leading brands Walkers and Kellogg’s are shouting "Get off my land!" and trying to repel “poacher brands” who are stealing their share.

In this post we look at how Tropicana is doing this, in a way that may have more chance of success that the previous two examples.