Brand managers Marcilie Smith Boyle (HBS MBA Class of 1996) and Allison Warren were getting together for their weekly Kingsford Charcoal ("Kingsford") debriefing meeting in February 2001 at Clorox's corporate offices in Oakland, CA. As the job-sharing brand managers for the $350 million charcoal business, Smith Boyle and Warren had a lot to discuss during their Wednesday "overlap" day. Both women were assigned to the brand in July 2000, just as it became apparent that the summer results were going to come in below forecast. Since the 1980s, Kingsford had continued to enjoy steady, moderate growth of 1-3 percent in revenues each year. During this time, the charcoal category as a whole had been growing as well. However the summer of 2000 represented the first softening in the overall charcoal category in several years, and Smith Boyle and Warren were tasked with determining the causes and coming up with recommendations.
As the team analyzed various trends relating to competition, pricing, advertising, promotion, and production, Smith Boyle and Warren were faced with a series of critical strategic decisions that would impact the future trajectory of the Kingsford brand. Kingsford had not raised prices in several years, nor had it advertised in any significant way since 1998—options that now required consideration. With Kingsford's long track record of being heavily driven by sales and merchandising activities, Smith Boyle and Warren wondered whether there was an opportunity to balance this effort and invest more in rekindling consumer interest in charcoal grilling(重新點燃消費者對木炭燒烤的興趣). They realized that this initiative could significantly impact the brand image and the advertising message. There were also some production issues looming(隱約地出現) in the horizon—if Clorox did invest in building(投資建設) the Kingsford business, would the existing capacity be adequate? Smith Boyle and Warren were scheduled to meet with their marketing director, Derek Gordon, the following week and they were eager to get his feedback on their recommendations before Kingsford's annual business review later in the month.
GRILLING IN AMERICA
People cook over an open flame the world around but Americans do it more often and better Grilling is the essential American culinary art, (美國的烹飪藝術) a glorious birthright(一種光榮與生俱來的) celebrated everyday from coast to coast. It's a passion, a party, a way to cook that won't let you call it a chore(苦差). It's about playing with fire under an open sky, wielding a mean spatula (揮舞著平底鑊鏟) in one hand, a cool drink in the other. Most of all it's a surefire means (萬無一失的手段) to get yourself from here to a decent (相當不錯的) meal having loads of fun. Make that a great meal....
—Excerpt from the front flap of Born to Grill:An American
Celebration (1998) by Cheryl Alters Jamison and Bill Jamison
By the late 1990s, three out of four U.S. households owned a barbecue grill which over 80 percent of grill ownership being among younger, larger, higher-income families. The total number of barbecue events In the United States had gone up from 1.4 billion in 1987 to 2.7 billion in 1995 and over3 billion In 2000.
Just over half of grill owners were heavy/medium users but they did the vast majority of the barbecuing (more than 85 percent of all occasions). Over 60 percent of barbecuers were men and the most popular occasions cited for grilling were: July 4, Labor Day, Memorial Day, (陣亡將士紀念日) and special occasions such as tailgating (車尾野聚會，又叫“球迷場外野餐會”). Common reasons for a barbecuing included great flavor, desire to be outdoors, hanging out with family and friends, change of pace, easy clean-up, and informality. Although barbecuers had greatly expanded their cookout repertoire (all the things that a person is able to do) over time, the foods that typically topped the “cooked frequently” list had not changed much. The most popular foods for the grill included hamburgers, steak, hot dogs, chicken breasts, pork...
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