Saxonville Sausage Company

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Case 3 : Saxonville Sausage Company

I. Background

Saxonville was a 70-year-old, privately held family business headquartered in Saxonville, Ohio, with 2005 revenues of approximately $1.5 billion. The company produced a variety of pork sausage products, predominantly fresh sausage as opposed to smoked or semi-dried. The heart of the business consisted of branded products: bratwurst (70% of Saxonville’s revenues); breakfast sausage, both links and patties (20% of revenues); and an Italian sausage named Vivio (5% of revenues). Storebrand

Since 2004, both the bratwurst and breakfast categories across all sausage producers had been flat (0% volume increase) nationwide, with little or no growth expected in the short term. Saxonville’s own brats sales had been flat, but in breakfast sausage the company had underperformed the market, resulting in a double-digit revenue decline.

II. Problems

Italian sausage was the one category showing growth across producers in the retail sausage market, having grown at an annual rate of 9% in 2004 and 15% in 2005. Saxonville’s Vivio brand had matched that level of category growth; however, Vivio was available in just 16% of the nation’s large supermarkets, primarily in Boston, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and South Carolina.

Ann Banks, new product marketing director at Saxonville Sausage Company assigned to assess “the Italian opportunity” for Saxonville and develop a national product under the Vivio name or as a new brand. Coming from a Fortune 100 packaged goods company, with experience in brand identity and development work, Banks was eager to “make her mark” in a smaller organization. Saxonville needs a well-thought-out positioning plan if they want to move from their also-ran position in Italian sausage to national category leader and make their product one that every major grocery account in the U.S. will want to carry.

Some facts and problem about Saxonville’s Italian Sausage Business :

1. The company doesn’t have a clear positioning about the Vivio brand

This product used a Styrofoam tray covered in plastic wrap, with a label depicting coiled links of sausage next to a head of garlic and an old-fashioned sausage grinder. The label covers most of the package, leaving enough space so you can see the ‘look’ of the sausage inside. It says ‘Vivio fresh Italian sausage’ and has an Italian flag in one corner. That was the positioning of Vivio brand

2. Low Support marketing and trade promo program and Not supported by Advertising

Its only supported the brand with base trade spending, but slowly and surely it’s making distribution gains. Field reps report that major supermarket accounts in different areas request Vivio to stay competitive. In a number of accounts, the brand has gained multiple facings. Other Italian sausage brands have been pulling consumers in, and Vivio’s growing along with the category.

3. This brand do not have market research on the Italian sausage customer

However, Saxonville had not yet conducted market research on the Italian sausage customer, because senior management felt the business was growing just fine without research and was skeptical of positioning.

4. Comparably priced with competitive brands with a 20% higher SRP than store brands

To find the way to make this brand perform better, Then, Ann banks with her manager Sears assistance, she formed a multifunctional task force that would provide input and perspective in her investigation of the Italian sausage opportunity. The team, who named their task “Project Score,” included 10 colleagues from the research and development (R&D), packaging and graphics, marketing, and sales departments

III. Alternative Solution

There are numerous ways to do positioning work. It can follow a four-step process. The first is a round of qualitative research with target consumers to...
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