Growing your category – Aunt Bessie’s

Screen Shot 2012-02-08 at 18.37.54You have to admit you get variety on the brandgym blog. We're moving on from Yorkshire as a back-drop for David Hockney's inspiring exhibition in my last post, to Yorkshire puddings today, from brand Aunt Bessie's.

For non-UK readers, Yorshire puddings are best known as an accompaniment to the traditional Sunday roast lunch. Aunt Bessie's have built their business by selling frozen Yorkshire puds that give you the traditional taste, but without the hassle of home cooking.

The challenge for Aunt Bessie's is that the Sunday roast has been on the decline for many years. The number regularly sitting down to Sunday lunch halved between 1961 to 2007, from 12.7 to 6 million, according to The Guardian.

So, a recent campaign has been launched to try and grow the category by promoting the idea of eating Yorkshire puddings in the week. You can watch the ad here, or click below if you're on the blog website. Here's some learning.

1. Leaders should lead category growth

Growing the category makes sense for Aunt Bessie's, as they are the market leader in Yorkshire puds with a 60% share according to The Grocer.. This means that they should get at least 60% of any market growth, hopefully more as they're the brand driving it.

Although buying frequency between brands in a category are similar and hard/impossible to change, you can work on increasing the frequency of uses of the whole category. For example, soft drink consumption per person amongst brands in the USA may be similar. But consumption per capita of the category as a whole is higher in the US vs. the UK.

2. Building brand properties

Aunt Bessie's is a good example of creating and amplifying brand properties in order to build "memory structure". The latest Aunt Bessie's ad again features two nosey neighbours called Margeret and Mabel,  who have been featured in the brand's communication now for three years. The old ladies are used to communicate in an entertaining way how the Aunt Bessie's user manages to cook great tasting, traditional food for her family whilst still living a busy life. "Yorkshire's on a school night! How does she do that?" they ask.

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3. Growing the core

The brand has grown to now grown to have £173m in sales (year to June 2011), with growth of 8%, and the range now also includes roast potatoes, vegetables and puddings. But its good to see Aunt Bessie's going back to the core Yorkshire pud. This product is key to the brand:

– Source of authority: the product with which the brand was born, and which is still the best dramatisation of what the brand is famous for

– Source of profit: still an important part of the brand's sales

In conclusion, this a nice example of a leader brand seeking to grow not through changing the product, or by adding additional new products, but by growing the core business by growing the category.