A Positioning Strategy Founded on Health: Health Kups
According to company history, the paper cups now known as Dixie initially were sold under the name The Health Kup. The original positioning was, “Paper cups untouched by human hands” to stop the spread of germs, and they were available in “dispensers installed in offices, schools, trains.” The Health Kup was renamed to Dixie because it shared space in New York with a doll company with the name Dixie.
Expansion of Product Line
The product line expanded to include plates and more, and:
“[For] the company founded on the importance of sanitation, it was this desire for convenience that would help it push into the modern era.”
Today’s Dixie is owned by Georgia Pacific. It offers a line of plates, bowls and cups “to simplify your life.” Georgia Pacific also owns the Vanity Fair and Mardi Gras brands in the tableware category.
Rebranding along with Repositioning
While this is a historical positioning case example, it’s likely that the brand currently is considering rebranding and repositioning. With the June 25, 2020 renaming of The Dixie Chicks to The Chicks, rebranding Dixie is likely in consideration.
Dixie is the #1 Brand in Disposable Tableware
The competitive frame of reference for disposable plates includes private label and several brands. In 2019, Statista estimated:
- Store brand is used by 85 million consumers
- Dixie is the leading branded player at 45 million
- Hefty at 30 million
- Chinet at 25 million
- Solo at 16 million
- Vanity Fair at 9 million
It’s an interesting category because many of the products are quite different from one another: think of Solo’s plastic red cup, Chinet’s cardboard-like white plate, Dixie’s colorful designs and the thin, flimsy private-label plates sold in giant bags at low prices. These product forms suggest different performance, which turned out to be a factor in consumer perceptions.
Disposable plates have been deliberately associated with entertaining through the advertising of leading brands like Chinet and Dixie. Dixie had a long heritage of being for entertaining, and the brand offers attractive designs. Chinet suggested you “Invite” others for entertaining, and the brand promises to “give you everything you need to pull it off.” Along with this positioning, Chinet (like China) also conveys that its plates are sturdy enough to stand up to hearty food like burgers, as well as being a cut above ordinary.
Positioning Benefit Areas: Need to Prove Performance
One of the positioning benefit areas that we explored with disposable plate target consumers was self expression through the designs. While this area held appeal, what we learned is that the consumer can’t get to this higher order emotional benefit when they have concerns around the product performance.
In the case of Dixie, they were concerned that because the plates are thin, they will buckle under pressure of liquids or heavier foods like lasagna. The image of a flimsy paper plate collapsing and a party guest’s food going everywhere was strongly embedded in their minds.
A Sturdy Positioning Strategy
The positioning strategy recommendation was to address the perceived issue with the product’s sturdiness and performance, which for consumers is not immediately suggested by the thin plate and the colorful designs.
In response, the Dixie brand has demonstrated how the brand stands up well to consumer torture tests like two-pound steaks, as shown is this 2017 stress test spot. An older execution shows a mom having to do extra laundry because of the leakiness of Chinet and ordinary (private label) plates. Advertising for sub brand names like Ultra and “soak proof” shield have worked hard to combat the image.
Is There a Positioning Opportunity with a New Brand Name for Dixie?
With a new brand name (not Dixie), there is potential that the new brand may better address the performance perceptions. While we haven’t seen any new data, it’s likely still the case that consumers have concerns with the brand’s performance. The product reality is that the plates do perform, but the perception may still be lagging.
Dixie might consider re-naming as a positioning opportunity instead of a loss of brand equity.