Julie Hall of Schneider Associates sent me a note the other day: "Olive Garden just launched a line of salad dressings at SAM's club in today's FMI newsletter. Yesterday we saw that IHOP launched a new line of syrup---and of course we sent this to our Mrs. Butterworth client about how they need to protect their brand in store." This got me thinking about asking Julie what she is seeing in new product launches in supermarkets from some of the major foodservice restaurant brands.
So Julie, what is the big deal here? TGI Friday's Wolfgang Puck, just 2 restaurant brands have been around for a while. White Castle claims they were quite successful with launching their sliders in retail grocery. Why is this different or is this portending some larger food trend for the future?
"We have seen this for years and many celebrity chefs have food lines. Now tried and true family restaurants are launching lines of things that people love about their restaurants. This will really take flight particularly in light of the strong growth of Private Label. This is another blow across the bow to traditional brands." She pointed out how Dunkin donuts and Starbucks are distributing supermarkets. Furthermore the Verismo® System by Starbucks is competing with Keurig and Green Mountain Coffee a further example of channel blurring. If you thought shelf space was tight, all of this is exacerbating the shelf space war.
What is Migration Marketing (Channel Migration)
Julie, simply put, what is this phenomena?
"A new trend of Migration Marketing™ emerged, where marketers migrate to new market segments, but will likely migrate back to their normal consumer base. For many fast food companies this meant introducing premium products that balanced a need for cost savings/value with a desire to indulge. Migration Marketing™ helps to make trading up or down more palatable."
The key takeaway here is that we are seeing more "migration marketing" happening again this year. QSR and fast casual traffic is getting better but not where it should be so they are taking their brand equity, leveraging it and getting into another point of distribution. "This is brilliant! But if I am a salad dressing company (Kraft) or syrup company (Pinnacle) I would be rapidly looking at what is great about MY brand and start reminding consumers every way I can......because they ARE going to buy these restaurant-themed foods. Look at Dunkin Donuts supermarket sales....." according to Julie. Fast Casual operators such as Panera are well positioned for rolling out supermarket brands and Technomics Pizza Consumer Trends report focus on taken-n-bake concepts that I can see migrating into the supermarket.
New Product Launch Trends for 2012 and Beyond
Do these migrated channel brands need a different launch model than the one Schneider has developed?
Julie feels that "these restaurant brands have a great opportunity to leverage the real-estate from where they come". This means IHOP and Olive Garden should showcase their retail products in their restaurants and promoting on point of purchase(POP) with tabletop marketing as well as engage their army of servers. Since they are used to being the king of their turf… they have to get used to their brand being in more control of the supermarket. These restaurant CPG brads can leverage their Promotion Planning and Adv PR/Communications efforts to support both retail and foodservice channels. I see other operators considering launching in their units first in order to get trial and word of mouth prior to a supermarket new product launch.
This dual retail and food positioning is sort of walking a tight rope, attempting to have a retail and foodservice positioning under one brand umbrella. For example, price is more of an issue in supermarkets vs. a restaurants. So what do you? "I don't think this dual positioning will hurt them. I will hurt the Krafts, Aunt Jemmima, MRs. Butterworth, etc. They will try to carry over the "fun positioning over to the supermarkets… which I think will be a challenge" according to Julie.