Global Business Strategies
August 7, 2006
Case Study: Gerber Baby Food
Store bought baby food is considered a necessity for many individuals around the world. Prepackaged baby food is a convenience that few would give up and a product that helps individuals properly feed their infants. Most people, when buying or feeding a jar of baby food to their infant, do not think of the company and all the intricate details being a baby food maker entails. Gerber baby foods is the top seller of baby food products in the world, and just like any other global corporation, Gerber baby foods has the endless responsibility of running a successful corporation; it is not just about puréed fruits and vegetables. The following is a case study of Gerber baby foods and the company's other non-food products (Gerber website, History, 2006). Background and History
The world of store bought baby food began in Michigan, 1927 at the home of Daniel and Dorothy Gerber. Little did they know that by trying to find an easier method for hand-straining solid food for their seven-month old daughter Sally and Dorothy's suggestion of doing the chore at the local cannery, the Fremont Canning Company where the family produced a line of fruits and vegetables, they would create a baby food empire. Mr. Gerber took the advice of his wife and found that her idea of canning their daughter's baby food at the factory was an ingenious idea. Mr. Gerber continued experimenting and his daughter became company's first baby food analyst. Workers in the plant thought the idea was great and began requesting samples for their babies, and by late 1928 Gerber baby food was ready for the market (Gerber Website, History, 2006).
Gerber's experience in marketing was interesting as the company came around the time when national distribution was nearly unheard of, and most products were only available in a few stores in every area of the country. Gerber had to do something to gain national attention so that the company could survive. Gerber devised an ingenious marketing campaign for the company. Gerber offered a coupon including a picture of the Gerber baby in many publications, which encouraged previously skeptical grocers to place orders by the dozens. Six months later, Gerber baby foods were on grocery stores' shelve across the nation (Gerber Website, History, 2006).
Since Gerber's debut in 1928, The company has continued to grow into the leading baby food global corporation that has nearly 190 food products; is labeled in 16 languages; is distributed to 80 different countries; and has maintained one of the world's largest privet research facilities dedicated to infant nutrition. In 1994, Gerber merged with Sandoz, Ltd. The company then became part of the Novartis group of companies formed in 1996 by the merger of Ciba-Geigy and Sandoz. Gerber is headquartered in Fremont, Michigan(Gerber Website, History, 2006). Products
Gerber began with only offering five products. The first flavors, introduced in late 1928, were strained peas, prunes, carrots, spinach, and beef vegetable soup. Gerber eventually went on to develop three age appropriate categories each containing a multitude of meats, vegetable, and fruits. Each category offer foods, consistency, and textures appropriate for different for the ages separated by the categories. Over the years Gerber has added other food products such as cereals, juices, finger foods, an organic line of food products, cultural flavor lines, and a line of food products for toddlers. In addition to the food products Gerber has also incorporated other non-food products such as bottle and breastfeeding products, other feeding products like utensils, cups, and dishware, Pacifiers and teething products, healthcare products, bath time and skincare products, clothing, and child insurance (Gerber Website, History, 2006). Internal Company Strategic and Operational Challenges to Going Global Like any other global...