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Competitor Analysis Case Example in “Better for You” Innovation

Competitor Analysis Case Example Shows Analogy Category Research Drives Brand Portfolio, Targeting and Innovation Strategy Implications

Insight to Action chartered with our client team to develop a brand architecture and targeting strategy, along with a pipeline of better for you (BFY) innovation products in the pasta category.  In this competitor analysis case example, we unlocked immediate opportunities in looking outside the category to competitors in analogous categories that included bread, cereal, and beverages. 

The focus of the analysis was brand portfolio, innovation, new products, and marketing.  It also consistently examined the choice of marketing ingredients compared with marketing benefits.

Choice of IngredientsChoice of Benefits
Whole grainsEnergy
FiberHeart health
Omega 3’sBone health
Organic/naturalMood food
AntioxidantsWeight management
ProteinDigestive health
VegetablesMental sharpness
Gluten and/or lactose intoleranceBeauty
 All family nutrition

Healthy Bread Competitor Analysis Case Example

We identified leading competitors in the analogous category of bread, and then conducted case study interviews with management at these firms, analyzed scanner and household panel data, and completed a marketing review.

Sara Lee Soft & Smooth Bread: First Analogy Competitor

Competitor Analysis Case Example in “Better for You” Innovation

The Sara Lee brand equity overall was known for being an all family brand, delivering taste, quality, indulgence, a variety of products and flavors. Unsurprisingly, the brand was not known for “healthy.” Bread is a dietary staple in most households, and many consumers seek some health benefits from bread, so Sara Lee identified health as an area of innovation focus. 

In 2005, Sara Lee introduced 100% Whole Wheat & Honey Wheat Soft & Smooth.  This product offers the traditional “white bread” smooth texture to help make the transition to whole grains without shocking the taste expectations of kids (or other adults).  This was considered “Stealth Health” as it is not overtly healthy in its name or appearance.

The target was households that value health but are also kid pleasing. By 2007, this bread represented a $175 million business in the US.  It was selected as a top growth driver in 2009. The product received dedicated marketing support and was partnered with Disney to reach its core target of households with kids.  Today, the Sara Lee bread brand is owned by Bimbo, and Soft & Smooth is marketed as Sara Lee Whole Grain White Bread.

The competitor category analogy implication for the pasta business was to create a stealth-health, 100% whole-wheat pasta product for families with kids.  There were also a number of valuable insights around portfolio strategy, focus and marketing.

George Weston Bakeries- Arnold: Second Analogy Competitor

Competitor Analysis Case Example in “Better for You” Innovation

George Weston Bakeries (now, also owned by Bimbo) had several brands with a similar equity:

  • Arnold
  • Brownberry
  • Oroweat  

They stood for natural, wholesome, quality and well-established brands.  Prior to acquisition, the combined brands had around $500 million in sales, with Arnold by far the largest of the three. At the time of this work, Bimbo had already acquired George Weston. 

The brand portfolio included a number of sub-brands in the healthy space, including a Whole Grain Classics (100% whole wheat), Grains & More, Natural, 100 Calorie, Bakery Light and Select Sandwich Thins. 

Grains & More: Nutrition for Adults

With products like Double Fiber and Double Protein, Grains & More targeted adult households, touting 100% whole grains and double nutrition. Grains & More (now called Whole Grains) focused on wide pan SKUs for adult sandwich use.  Most of the sales were in double fiber, followed by double protein.  These descriptive brand names clearly communicated the product’s point of difference. 

Sandwich Thins: Innovation for Health- and Weight-Conscious

Select Sandwich Thins targeted health and weight conscious women with its now-ubiquitous “thin” form. The product launched in 2008 and was considered Arnold’s most innovative product and BFY success. It’s now called Sandwich Thin Rolls.

The products were initially focused on fairly basic SKUs: 100% whole wheat, multigrain and whole grain white, and marketed to weight conscious adults in places like People and Weight Watchers magazine, along with a variety of online sites. The product was very profitable because it did not need to be put on sale like other products.  Today, the line includes honey wheat, flax & fiber, multigrain and 100% whole wheat flavors and boasts its own mini website.

The competitor category analogy implication for the pasta business was to focus the marketing budget and set brand priorities.  In this case, George Weston focused on better for you (BFY) brands and leveraged descriptive, hard-working sub names like Sandwich Thin Rolls. Given their limited marketing spending, ingredients were also emphasized in the names and on package (Double Protein).  There were several analogies for pasta, including a satiety play (more filling, eat less) and an ancient grains option.

Other competitors studied included Kellogg’s, Quaker and Naked Juice.

Competitor Analysis Case Example in “Better for You” Innovation

Competitor Analysis Case Example Takeaways

This competitor analysis case example yields five takeaways in the BFY innovation space.

  1. Portfolio Based on Consumer Targets
    • Many of the case examples showed success when companies aligned their brands to targets
  2. Leverage Nutrition Spectrum
    • The studied brands saw value in a spectrum of nutritional offerings (i.e., consumer and need state segmentation)
  3. Ingredients Seen as More Successful/Practical
    • While both benefits and ingredients were logical alternatives, generally the ingredient approach was considered to have broader reach with more proven success
  4. Descriptive, Hard-Working Sub Brand Names are an Asset
    • Sub brands were able to garner more efficient marketing through explicit communication of the positioning through the sub brand name
  5. Marketing Focus on “Health” was Disproportionate with Size Of The Business
    • Across examples, health was identified as a market differentiator and growth driver. It has increasingly become a marketing and innovation priority

Today’s better-for-you choices include new ingredients and benefit areas. If you’re seeking innovation in your BFY or indulgence pipelines, contact us.