Milk. Beef. Pork. Cotton. Raisins. Potatoes. Even prunes (now dried plums). All have generic or category marketing programs. While the fundamentals of marketing apply, these boards and commissions are truly are a breed apart. In part because of GOT MILK?, other, non-agricultural industries are considering programs designed to increase category demand. While this makes great sense, conceiving, organizing, funding and managing a generic program requires a different breed of thinking. Below are some of the reasons.
- The government is your boss. Most programs are legislated federally or state level. Thus, the ultimate “boss” is often a government agency.
- Sworn enemies sit on your board. The same folks who compete daily for business must put aside their brand hats and act as an industry.
- Consumer attitudes are deeply embedded and extremely difficult to shift. Because people are so intimately familiar with the category, changing attitudes is a complex, long term proposition.
- Dollars are limited and the competition is immense. Most generic programs are outspent 10 to 1 by branded competition.
- Accountability is vital and is complex. There are dozens of factors outside the influence of the program, e.g., price and quality. Sophisticated econometric analyses are used to supplement.
- Strategic partners are crucial. The collaboration between Oreos and milk involved the product (cookies embossed with GOTMILK?), packaging, consumer and trade promotion, POP, publicity and co-branded TV advertising.
- Creative opportunities are unlimited. Some of the finest, most enduring creative work is done for generic marketing simply because: 1) there is no brand mandate and 2) the work is not usually tested to death.
Any industry contemplating category marketing would benefit hugely from “Category Marketing: A Breed Apart”. This keynote speech is the foundation for a workshop and longer term consultation. Existing boards and commissions will find the “Commodity Marketing Audit” invaluable in benchmarking their program.