Positioning Strategy for Highly Competitive Grass Seed Category

Positioning Strategy for Grass Seed Market…Highly Competitive with Regional Differences

The US consumer grass seed market is highly competitive, with Scotts and Pennington along with other brands.  For example, this review outlet has multiple contenders from Scotts and Pennington in its top 10 products. To enjoy any success, a grass seed brand requires solid positioning strategy.

Within this competitive landscape, there are regional differences in lawns, growing seasons and consumer needs.  At the time of this research, for example, many consumers in the Northern markets did not know the type of grass in their lawn, whereas most consumers in the Southern markets could name their grass type, e.g., Tall Fescue, Bermuda, etc. 

We were asked by Scotts to work on the relaunch and positioning of an innovative grass seed that was heat tolerant, spread aggressively to self-repair and provided an aesthetically pleasing lawn. This innovative product competed in the premium portion of the US grass seed market. At the time, the total US consumer grass seed and patch market was over $400 million. 

Positioning Strategy for the Highly Competitive Grass Seed Category

Target Consumers Valued a High-Quality Product

Because of the premium nature of this product, the target was:

“Involved grass seed users who value a higher quality product and are not highly price sensitive.”

This target included both Scotts and Pennington users those who were open to paying more for better results and those who were already purchasing a premium product.  Looking at the current top 10 grass seed and patch products, there is considerable price per pound variation, ranging from $1.23 to $5.14.

The discovery process included a review of existing research, and an analysis of secondary data, along with management hypotheses. Twenty-one in depth interviews explored consumer motivations, such as:

  • lawn situations
  • attitudes toward grass seed and lawn/lawn care
  • occasions and benefits sought
  • purchase behavior
  • barriers and pain points
  • initial reactions to product benefits and descriptions

Positioning Strategy Concepts Evaluated in Six Benefit Areas

With the discovery results in hand, the team moved on to positioning optimization, working with twelve mini-groups in four markets: Atlanta and Charlotte from the Southern region, along with Philadelphia and Chicago from the Northern region. All were homeowners in the target segment, primarily responsible for purchasing and using lawn products, pre-disposed to grass seed and did not purchase on the base of price alone.

Thirty-five positioning statements were tested with consumers. Based on consumer feedback, new ideas were added and others were dropped, while survivor concepts were optimized.  The six benefit areas explored were:

  1. Climate proof
  2. Appearance
  3. Aggressive spreading/self-repair
  4. Heat tolerance
  5. Long term results
  6. Science of Scotts
Positioning Strategy for the Highly Competitive Grass Seed Category

The Winning Positioning Strategy

Consumers in both the Northern and Southern Regions selected the same winning positioning:

Scotts Heat-Tolerant Blue Mix …With this Unique Blend, You Get the Plush, High Density Look You Want, With the Durability You Need.

Rational and Emotional Benefits

The winning rational benefit was the combination of the heat and drought-tolerant durability that is needed plus the plush, high-density look that is wanted.  The emotional benefit was pride for the more active users and confidence for the lapsed users.  Consumers said that this grass seed will “solve my problems,” “give me what I’m looking for,” and “give me a lawn that’s plush, but real tough.”

Reasons to Believe

The optimized reasons to believe were:

  • a blend of fine bladed grass and durable grass
  • more grass per square foot than the leading grass seed
  • blend’s complementary underground system that can draw water from down deep and from closer to the surface
  • patented technology

Given the regional nature of the category, there were also some specific claims that were needed by region.

Positioning Framework

  • To (target) Involved grass seed users who value quality,
  • (brand) Scotts Heat-Tolerant Blue Mix is the
  • (frame of reference) grass seed blend that
  • (point of difference) gives you the plush, high density look you want with the durability you need
  • because (reason to believe) it uses a patented technology, is a blend of fine bladed grass and a durable grass, gives you more grass per square foot than the leading brand, and has a complementary root system that draws water from down deep and from closer to the surface

The positioning strategy was quantitatively tested with the intent of using it to guide advertising and on-package communications. Today’s Heat-Tolerant Blue Mix’s Amazon product description highlights:

  • a “mix of tall fescue and bluegrass seed for deep roots and durability”
  • several other benefits related to the “4 in 1 Water Smart PLUS Coating”
  • Scott’s best seed
  • designed for full sun and partial shade
  • high drought resistance 

The positioning has evolved to reflect these new benefits and consumer demands.  The challenge for consumers remains to get that plush and dense lawn that’s durable. If your brand has a positioning challenge, start a conversation with the Insight to Action experts and contact us today.

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