DES PLAINES, Ill. -- Two major brand marketers followed the old adage, "Know your customer," in their new-product strategies earlier this year. Campbell Sales Co. targeted upscale consumers with a superpremium spaghetti sauce called Barilla. The product, introduced in June, was designed to appeal to consumers with smaller families, in the 25- to 54-year-old group, with household incomes of $50,000 or higher. Meanwhile, Pillsbury/Green Giant Vegetables, Minneapolis, chose to target the largest demographic group in the United States, which includes 60% of all households, with its newest versions of Create A Meal! frozen vegetable and sauce product. This household segment consist of one or two members, aged 45 and older, and is expected to grow 20% by the year 2000.
Dan Emberley, product sales manager at Pillsbury/Green Giant, Minneapolis, and Michael Theodore, Mid-Central region director for grocery products at Campbell Sales Co., Mount Prospect, Ill., discussed the strategies behind these introductions at a meeting here of the Merchandising Executives Club of Chicago. Pillsbury/Green Giant is currently rolling out some line extensions to Create A Meal!, first introduced three years ago. The four new Create A Meal! varieties are: creamy chicken noodle, hearty vegetable stew, creamy cheddar and lemon herb. Package graphics have been redesigned. The new items are intended to respond to two consumer trends: the comeback of "traditional" foods and demand for more healthy food choices, according to Emberley. "Consumers are looking for ways to make traditional foods more convenient and healthy. Our other Create A Meal! items have been stir-fry oriented. The more traditional entrees tend to be more labor intensive or time intensive," he said. Campbell also has been moving in a more traditional meal choice direction with its Barilla superpremium sauces, according to Theodore. "Campbell Soup Co. recognized an opportunity: provide consumers with a pasta sauce that is truly delicious and authentically Italian. We went to the experts, the Barillas of Parma, Italy, with 117 years of family heritage, with recipes passed down from generation to generation. Barilla is Italy's No. 1 pasta sauce, with a 35% market share." Campbell and Barilla partnered, using the Barilla family recipe's brand recognition and Campbell's superior sales, distribution and consumer knowledge to introduce Barilla, Theodore said. The top-six flavor profiles preferred by consumers were identified and now are available under the Barilla label: green and black olive, spicy pepper, tomato basil, marinara, mushroom garlic, and sweet peppers and garlic. "One of the major reasons we launched Barilla is that superpremium spaghetti sauce is growing twice as fast as the category," Theodore said, referring to a 5% dollar growth rate for the total spaghetti sauce category vs. a 12% growth rate in dollars for superpremium sauces. "Based on a 20% gross profit margin, Barilla will help grow category profit to $6 per case vs. average category profit at $3.60 per case," he said. Pillsbury research indicates that Create A Meal! sales continue to grow as more flavors are added to the line, Emberley said. Create A Meal! continues to have the highest dollar sales and points of distribution of any national branded prepared polybag item.