Saxonville Sausage - Case Analysis

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Analysis – Saxonville Sausage Company

I. SITUATION ANALYSIS

Saxonville Sausage Company (“Saxonville” or “the Company”) is a privately-held, family owned business specializing in fresh pork sausage products. The Company’s 2005 revenues were roughly $1.5 billion driven by the following business lines: bratwurst (70% of revenues); breakfast sausages (20% of revenues); Italian sausage (5% of revenues); and store-branded products (5% of revenues). Since 2004, the overall market demand for sausage products has been flat in both the bratwurst and breakfast sausage categories, while the only market segment showing significant growth was the Italian sausage category (overall market growth of 9% in 2004 and 15% in 2005). Saxonville’s Italian line, Vivio, was keeping pace with the growth of the category, but was distributed in just 16% of large supermarkets, principally in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states. In contrast, the Company’s bratwurst and breakfast products were generally distributed and sold nationwide, however, with little distribution in the Northeast markets. To capitalize on the market opportunity and growing demand for Italian sausage, the Company’s new product marketing director, Ann Banks, was tasked to develop and implement a plan to properly position and launch a national Italian sausage brand. Saxonville’s goals were to become a national leader in the Italian sausage segment, take advantage of the growth in that category, avoid or minimize cannibalization of its other product lines, and achieve its profit objectives for the next year and beyond. II. PROBLEM DEFINITION

The Company faced two key issues: (i) how to optimally position its Italian sausage brand for national success; and (ii) which distinctive brand identity (e.g. “Vivio” vs. something else) would resonate most with the principal purchasers of Italian sausage to influence them to desire and buy the Company’s product. III. ANALYSIS OF ALTERNATIVES

In order to create this optimal brand positioning, Banks and her team found it necessary to conduct market research to, first, identify the primary buyers of Italian sausage and, then, to understand the needs and values that motivate them to purchase Italian sausage. Analysis of secondary data, including results from the Company’s prior data on Attitudes and Usage (“A&U”), its regularly updated online market database, and previous year-end reports and annual branch business plans, revealed that female head-of-households were the primary purchasers of Italian sausage. The data also detailed usage patterns, demographic differences and other characteristics. Analysis of primary data, first, from exploratory pilot groups, helped the team understand what users have to say about Italian sausage and to validate findings from the A&U data. Then, focus groups comprised of the primary target market – female head-of-households – provided insight on users’ needs, purchase triggers, perceptions of product benefits (emotional and functional) and other attributes. With these findings, Banks’ team developed common themes and brand positioning concepts. The team narrowed the positioning concepts to these four: (i) “Family Connection”; (ii) “Labor of Love”; (iii) “Balancing Act”; and (iv) “Clever Cooking.” Each concept was designed to link an emotional benefit to a functional benefit to satisfy the target users’ core value of wanting to do a “job well done” for her family and herself (Appendix A). Additional qualitative research to prioritize the positioning concepts resulted in the top two themes, “Family Connection” and “Clever Cooking.” While “Family Connection” scored better in the final phase of testing, both concepts were extremely viable, with each of them receiving the highest purchase intent scores the Company had ever seen.

Since the Company operated primarily in the fresh sausage market and already had a reputation for exceptional product quality, it was crucial for...
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