Tag Archives: situation analysis

Why Can’t Ketchup, well… Catchup?

It’s happened again – one minute consumers are buying in a predictable way, at the usual times, and in the usual patterns. Then, boom! Everything changes.

But this time, instead of earlier toilet paper shortages, the product causing big problems is ketchup! Especially those small packets that are loved by fast-food customers everywhere.

The culprit, once again, causing this supply chain saga is Covid-19. Yes, the pandemic appears to have influenced every facet of consumer behavior. The main shift was caused by closed restaurants that drove consumers to the fast-food drive-in restaurants and home cooking, rather than dine-in restaurant options. It also turned many former dine-in restaurants into takeout places, making ketchup a commodity included in more food orders.

Ketchup packet prices have risen 13% since last January and the market share of packets (sachets) has eclipsed that of tabletop bottles. Ketchup is the most consumed sauce at U.S. restaurants, and even more is eaten at home. The pandemic has increased overall retail ketchup sales in the U.S. by 15% to more than $1 billion. Kraft Heinz leads the market with nearly 70% of the total U.S. market.

Kraft is responding to the shortage and plans to open two new manufacturing lines and increase production by about 25%. It has also innovated a no-touch ketchup dispenser to use at restaurants to help meet safety concerns caused by Covid.

Pass the ketchup please.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the elements in the supply chain and marketing channel.
  2. Diagram the supply chain and marketing channel for toilet paper.
  3. Show a news video about the shortage: https://youtu.be/4A7ObtFfYrE
  4. Where are the stress points in the supply chain and marketing channel?
  5.  What can be done to better produce and manage products?
  6. Poll students: What are their predictions for the next shortage?

Source: New York Times; Reuters News; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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What does Gen Z Want from Brands Right Now?

“May you live in interesting times.” Is this a blessing or a curse? On the one hand, “interesting times” are full of action and movement (fun!), and of course some drama (not fun). On the other hand, “interesting times” means that we are not bored with a daily routine and our eyes are opened to different situations (fun and not fun).

This year is certainly a year of interesting times with the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc in the world. Businesses closed, schools closed, no graduations, proms, or commencement ceremonies, and the daily worry about contracting Covid-19. Now add the social upheaval about policing, riots, and confronting racism, and our stress levels ratchets up to a very high level!

What do consumers want to hear from companies and brands right now? And, specifically, what does Generation Z want to hear? A recent survey of younger consumers aged 13 – 25 revealed that these young people want to see brands make a difference and explain how they are protecting employees, as well as protecting consumers. Here are some of the findings about the type of communications and contents that Gen Z wants:

  • 88% – Brands should be communicating about Covid-19.
  • 59% – Want information about how brands are keeping employees safe and financially protected.
  • 47% – Want positive and uplifting stories.
  • 55% – Want information about how brands are helping local communities.
  • 48% – Want resources to help consumers like accessing mental and health support.
  • 59% – Brands should donate profits from consumer purchases to relief efforts.

Basically, Gen Z wants to see authentic and sincere statements. Gen Z wants to see that the brands they buy are working to give back to local communities.

What messages are important to you?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What is their opinion about a brand’s responsibility to the consumers in today’s environment?
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team identify three messages that they would like to see from a brand. Consider giving each team a different brand to focus on for the messages.
  3. Put the messages together and compare the results of each group.
  4. Show the research infographic: https://www.adweek.com/brand-marketing/infographic-what-gen-z-wants-to-see-from-brands-during-a-pandemic/?utm_content=adoftheday&utm_source=postup&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=FirstThingsFirst_Newsletter_200615054639&lyt_id=194931
  5. How closely does this match the students’ concerns?

Source: Ad Week

 

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Should Marketing Mention the Coronavirus?

Let’s face it – marketers are always on the lookout for new opportunities to sell products and services to consumers. This is true in bad times as in good. However, marketers must also be sensitive to what is happening in consumers’ lives and in the general marketplace. It is not wise (or ethical) to take advantage of someone’s suffering or fear in order to make a sale.

It can be tough though. Retail sales have been declining since March and had their largest drop in April as employees worked from home and stores and restaurants were shuttered. Shopping has also shifted from brick-and-mortar stores to online and ecommerce. People are nervous and anxious about their current situation, and about their future. They are also isolated at home and crave human connection. What should a marketer do?

This brings us back to basics: focus on the target market. What is the message the customers want to hear, need to hear, and will respond to positively? Messages should be calm and positive, not scaring to consumers. Stay with the basics of marketing principles: understand the customer, stay connected, alter the tone of messages, stick to the facts, and listen.

Stay connected with consumers. Be honest. Be safe.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What is their opinion about marketers’ responsibility in times of crisis?
  2. Specifically for the coronavirus pandemic, should companies promote their goods and services by using a painful situation to their advantage?
  3. Show a video about marketing during crisis: https://youtu.be/vmEJZ08rBoM
  4. Divide students into teams. Have each team research how various companies are addressing the coronavirus pandemic in their advertising and marketing. (Suggestions: Nike, Coca-Cola, Toyota, Tide, etc.)
  5. What is being done correctly? What should be changed?
  6. In teams, assign a product to the teams and have the students develop a marketing campaign that uses the pandemic in a way that shows a value to consumers.

Source: Ad Week; New York Times; other news sources

 

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