Can Manischewitz wine and dine new customers?

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Monitoring market share is still the first, best gauge of advertising and marketing campaigns for retailers, as brands – established and new — are primarily looking to convert brand loyalists from the competition.

The automotive industry is an obvious example of using advertising to convert customers.  Audi, for instance, made a huge splash over the last year starting with their 2011 SuperBowl ad that directly went after BMW and Mercedes in the luxury car category.

While the strategy of gaining market share is a fundamental part of any business plan, from an advertising perspective it has never been so transparent to customers.  It comes out in the form of clear shots in campaigns like Audi’s, but is also front and center as companies look to expand their offerings into new categories.   The quick service restaurant category shifts constantly depending on what is fashionable in the food world (low carb, low cal, and even Vegan…).

We’re accustomed to restaurants and automotive companies making their appeals to new audience segments, but when a company that is over 100 years old decides to break the mold and expand from a niche product line…it’s hard not to take notice.

Manischewitz is the largest manufacturer of processed kosher foods in the world and is traditionally recognized by the Jewish community for their Kosher offerings such as matzos and gefilte fish.  A recent New York Times article was discussed how the company launched a new campaign to appeal to the non-Jewish community.  Manischewitz has worked with their agency to develop generic ads that focus less on Jewish holidays and more on their tagline “Bringing families to the table since 1888,”repositioning themselves for new product offerings.

While many companies have successfully made this shift there is no question that it is still risky especially for a well established brand.  I immediately think of what was repeated to me throughout grad school ….”just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”   In 2010, Starbucks tested serving alcohol at their stores – but after seeing the results in select stores in Portland OR, Starbucks realized they were getting away from coffee as the core of their brand.

In the automotive example above with Audi, the company was trying to gain market share in the luxury brand category, which wasn’t a stretch from what the company initially stood for.  With the company’s strong reputation in engineering, customers could make that jump with Audi to put it in the same luxury class as Mercedes and BMW.  The key to success of extending market reach is truly in the hands of consumers…it comes down to simply whether the new category is believable.

Print Ad for Manischewitz gravies.

In the case of Manischewitz, the company is looking to evolve its product offering to items such as broths and gravy, which is not too much of a departure — but can they compete with established brands such as Swanson?  While their advertising is not taking on such brands directly, Manischewitz will be advertising in new venues that will put them head to head with competitors.  So the message is generic but their media plan will strategically position the company in a new arena.  The company is set to release 70 new products in 2012, so while their advertising message is not overly aggressive their business plan is. Very soon we’ll see if Manischewitz will really be “bringing families to the table” in 2012.

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