Saxonville Sausage Company: Ann Banks’ Case

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Introduction

Saxonville Sausage Company has been present in the fresh sausage market for over seventy years and is owned by a group of family members. It produces a range of sausage products like Vivio Italian sausage, Bratwurst, and Breakfast sausage, with the main focus being the fresh sausage. Based on the 2005 Saxonville financial reports Bratwurst sausages account for the biggest share of the company’s revenues followed by the Breakfast sausages at twenty percent and lastly Vivio at five percent.

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Starting in 2004, Bratwurst and Breakfast sausages sales had flat-lined on the national and regional markets, but in Saxonville, as Bratwurst portrayed the same tendency, the Breakfast sausage sales declined. This in turn led to an overall decline in the Company’s revenues. The company’s Vivio brand continued to show steady growth, increasing from a 9% annual growth to a 15% growth in 2004 and 2005 respectively. This was even though it had a limited presence in the nation’s major supermarkets (Moore, 2007, pp. 1).

Based on these figures and the promise of future growth, the company decided to re-establish Vivio as a national brand. In this, Saxonville was looking to become a market leader in the Italian sausage category and at the same time achieve growth in revenues and profits since the decline in sales had resulted in financial problems for the company. To help them come up with a viable plan, Saxonville hired Ann Banks, a well-known product development executive, who was to come up with ideas on how best to position the brand in the market. As a starting point, she analyzed the company’s relevant reports and came up with the following as the main challenges Saxonville’s products were facing:

Marketing and Advertising

The Company did not invest enough in marketing and advertising its products. For example, it did not spend enough on the advertising of its breakfast products and as a result, it could not be able to compete on the same level with other major products in the sausage market (Moore, 2007, pp. 1). The advertising agency for Bratwurst was fired in the middle of the year and the company was not able to get another agency to create and execute a new advertising campaign for Bratwurst and as such the product remained unadvertised for the rest of the year thereby limiting its chances against other similar products.

As for the only brand that was showing success in the market, that is Vivio; the company remained noncommittal to its advertisement arguing that it was already doing well in the market and as such there was no need to advertise it.

Brand Positioning

Saxonville Sausage Company did not take time to fully position Vivio in the market or sell it as a brand, a fact which made it less competitive against other major product brands in the market. To sell a product as a brand, a company needs to consider several factors, such as the product packaging, the message they send out to the consumers regarding its quality, how it is prepared or processed, and how it would be beneficial to the consumers among another thing (Sengupta, 2005, pp. 206-207).

Market Research

Saxonville did not carry out any kind of consumer market research to determine consumers’ behaviors, tastes, and preferences. This means that they blindly put out a product into the market with absolutely no information regarding how the consumers would react to it (Moore, 2007, pp. 2). Consumer behavior refers to those things that consumers engage in as they choose between the products to consume (O’Dougherty, 2007, pp. 2).

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Steps to the Consumer Search Process

From these findings, Ann came up with several steps to help in the consumer search process which included the following:

Qualitative Research

This stage is important as it helps determine what the consumers’ needs are as well as their consumption behaviors. Initially, the research sought to determine what Italian sausage consumers had to say regarding the product’s usage and benefits and also determine their attitudes towards it. The consumers were allowed to give their general views. Based on the information gathered, Ann and her team came up with specific guidelines on how to deal with the respondents who will be participating in the study. This would help them minimize the scope of the study and make it more focused on the main issues.

Sequential Rounding

After coming up with the specific guidelines to use in the study and finding the correct respondents, Ann and her group conducted their research on the consumers by dividing them into smaller focus groups and taking note of their responses and reactions to specific questions. Those interviewed were women as they are the main decision-makers regarding the kind of products families consume.

Conceptualization of Findings

In this stage, Ann’s group formulated concepts based on the information provided by the focus groups and let the consumers choose which concepts they considered a priority and also give their opinions on how these concepts could be improved. Among the issues that came up from the discussions were that women preferred preparing meals for their families as opposed to buying ready-made food but due to their hectic schedules, this could not happen daily. Cooking skills were also an issue as some women were not sure about their culinary skills. Most of them thought that Italian sausage was a better-suited meal compared to other ready-made standard meals.

The women also revealed that preparing meals would bring their families together at the dinner table. This was helpful to Ann and her group as it allowed them to come up with brand positioning concepts that would play into the emotions of their consumers and potential consumers. Apart from the emotional attachments the respondents held, the team also learned about their values, social roles, self-perceptions, and familial roles (Moore, 2007, pp. 5). Other issues like product pricing, advertising, heritage, and competition were also taken into account in the decision-making process.

Monadic Testing

Here a given number of respondents were given specific questions regarding specific concepts and asked to give their opinions. It also involved comparing two concepts that Ann’s team came up with and based on the respondents’ opinion, picking the one which was more appealing to them. The answers given here were used to determine the intention of the consumers to purchase the product after it was floated into the market.

Quantitative Analysis

The team then carried out an analysis of the results given in the above tests and came up with their conclusions about consumer behaviors and needs, which they in turn used to formulate various brand positioning strategies for the nationwide Italian sausage brand positioning campaign.

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Brand Positioning Concepts as Formulated by Ann’s Team

As a basis for positioning the product in the market, Ann and her group settled on the following brand positioning concepts:

  • Confidence: This will seek to show that with Italian sausage, a woman can be confident that her home-cooked meal will be surely appreciated by her family.
  • Tradition: Since women were keen on having their families eat together as part of restoring their childhood tradition, Italian sausage would be portrayed as a way of enabling the woman to achieve this since she will be able to prepare it for her whole family.
  • Appreciation: By making Italian sausage as part of a home-cooked meal, the woman would be able to get appreciation from her family.
  • Family Connection: By preparing Italian sausage, the meal would be more enjoyable and by sharing it with family and friends, the woman would be able to give them a chance to re-connect as a family. This would in effect serve as strategic positioning for the Saxonville Sausage Company.
  • Clever Cooking: This would involve a woman using high-quality ingredients in the meal which are at the same time fresh. Italian sausage holds these two qualities.
  • Quick and Easy: Italian sausage is easy to cook and therefore takes little time to prepare, meaning that time constraints will no longer be an issue for the woman.

Brand Positioning Recommended Concept

I would use the Family Connection concept. This is because for every woman, the most important aspect of her life is her family and she would go to all lengths to ensure her family’s happiness, starting from a simple, home-cooked meal to other major things. Having a product brand that would enable this to happen would make it her brand of choice. The fact that Italian sausage is easy to cook and can be used to make a variety of meals means that the woman takes less time preparing it and can come up with a variety of meals to prevent monotony in the kitchen. This in turn means that the woman will be able to fit its preparation into her busy schedule.

Marketing and Advertising Strategies

To successfully market its Italian sausage product, Saxonville should focus on the different aspects of the product such as its design and packaging. The packaging should be attractive and appeal to the consumers in a way that would make the product stand out even when placed on the same shelf with competing brands. The packaging should also contain important information about the product such as its good qualities and what it offers the consumer that other brands would not be able to offer, such as the health benefits of consuming fresh products.

Once the product is set for the market, Saxonville should engage in vigorous marketing strategies, the best platforms for the advertising being the internet and television. These two channels will ensure that the Italian sausage reaches the nationwide market. The company can sell its sausage product over the internet and offer free shipping to people in different cities, as well as sell the product at discounted prices. Sales promotion strategies like offering free samples to shoppers will also help in marketing the product as people will have a chance of familiarizing themselves with it.

Conclusion

Consumers form a very important aspect of product branding as they determine the kind of approach a company adopts in selling their product(s). Therefore, companies should conduct proper research to determine the needs of such consumers as well their behaviors and consumption trends. Based on the information gathered, the company can then come up with viable brand positioning strategies and the accompanying marketing strategies to make the product competitive and boost its general performance in the market. Proper brand positioning and marketing strategies determine the performance of the company as a whole, as the revenues and profits of a company generate depend on how successful these two strategies were in selling the product.

Reference List

Moore, K. (2007). Saxonville Sausage Company. Massachusetts: Harvard Business Publishing.

O’Dougherty, D. (2007). Consumer Behavior. Cape Town: Pearson Education Publishers.

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Sengupta, S. (2005). Brand Positioning: Strategies for Competitive Advantage. 2nd Ed. New Delhi: McGraw Hill Publishing Company Limited.

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