Brand portfolio management: Premier Foods flexes its muscle

News that Premier Foods will  use multi-brand campaign called “Great Little Ideas” as “a major offensive against supermarkets’ own-label lines” is an interesting example of brand portfolio management. According to Marketing,”the company is aiming to capitalise on the “cooking from scratch” trend by encouraging consumers to use brands such as Bisto, OXO and Sharwood’s in recipes.”

Portfolio muscle: YES

Looking at multi-brand/product communication like this is an interesting aspect of brand portfolio management. You can tell a bigger story about the role of your products in peoples’ lives. And it can help create stand-out and impact. The Premier move follows on the steps of attempts by other companies to harness the power of their portfolios:

– I posted on P&G experimenting with a make-over ad featuring Olay and Max Factor here. P&G claimed that US trials of the make-over ad showed it to be 4 times more effective than conventional ads.

– A post on the “It has to be Heinz” campaign here, featuring their 5 star products

Own-label fight-back: NO

Where I am less sure of the Premier move is that it will help fight back vs. own label. Marketing quote an
“exclusive survey” showing that 67% of people believe
own-label products are as good as branded ones. Well, the need for brands to fight back against the bully boy retailers is not news. I ranted about this three years ago, in a post called “Horror movie: The product that brands forgot”.

The Premier Great Little Ideas campaign seems more about encouraging extended usage of the company’s range of products, based on the website. A good way of growing the core through extended use. But this will do much to fight back vs. own label.

Beating the own label bully boys

My tips for taking the fight to own label were covered here in detail and are headlined below:

1. Be famous for something
Have a crystal clear positioning, “own” this in the minds of consumers. The word “own” here is important. e.g. Heinz is THE best tasting tomato ketchup, and no matter how hard a challenger tries to take it on, it’s
almost impossible to “re-wire” this association in millions of peoples’

2. 100 little things
Do lots of little things really well. Whilst own label can copy 1, 2 or more of these things, they can’t copy the whole mix.

3. Build authority
Own label lack the expertise or resources to create products requiring heavy R&D, which is they still have a small share of markets like cosmetics,
shampoo and laundry detergent. Take Flora/Becel Pro-Activ. This range of spreads and mini-drinks has been proven to lower cholesterol levels, based on millions of dollars of R&D.

4. Keep on keeping ahead
You need a pipeline with wave after wave of innovation. Good example is the recent post on Domestos upgrading to be twice as think as cheap bleach to last 50% longer. Great headline: “Cheap bleach is finished”.

5. Combine sizzle AND sausage
Sell your product advantage in an emotionally appealing way. This seamless
combination of “sausage and sizzle” truly is branding nirvana, like Marks & Spencer, Pampers, Dove, innocent, Magnum.

In conclusion, the Premier Great Little Ideas campaign looks like a good way of using the portfolio and growing the core. But it feels like a pea-shooter in the fight back against own label.

For more insights on how to create a brand portfolio strategy, check out this earlier brandgym blog post.