BOSTON — The J.M. Smucker Co. is realigning its marketing programs to engage consumers in a market featuring changing consumer preferences, the growth of e-commerce and a more fragmented media market. The company is undergoing the change as one strategy to make such legacy brands as Jif, Folgers, Smucker’s and Milk-Bone more relevant to younger consumers.
“The transformation of marketing began about a year ago with a pretty honest assessment of where we were,” said Geoff E. Tanner, senior vice-president of growth and consumer engagement for the company. He spoke Sept. 3 at the Barclays Global Consumer Staples Conference in Boston.
The internal assessment revealed creative was not “breaking through.”
“Internally, our efforts were fragmented and slow and we were losing household reach and penetration,” Mr. Tanner said.
Smucker’s new marketing model features three primary components, including a commitment to breakthrough creative, a cross-platform media model to optimize the reach of messaging, and an agile way of working.
“Over the next three months, we’re going to deploy new campaigns for our top 11 brands,” Mr. Tanner said. “This work includes over 20 new TV spots and over 100 digital and bite-sized pieces of content.”
A change in programming mix is intended to ensure brand messages are reaching younger consumers on culturally relevant programs and platforms, according to the company.
“It’s through this work and the collective body of the work, that’s how we’re going to accelerate our innovation, revitalize our core brands and pour gasoline on our growth brands.”
The new marketing strategy follows Smucker’s reorganization of its innovation model a few years ago, which included creating new cross-functional teams, new approaches to consumer insights and employing an agile approach.
“Innovation is a hard game, but that said, I am very pleased with our innovation performance and the success rates that we’re seeing,” Mr. Tanner said. “In fiscal ‘19, we delivered over $200 million in net sales from new products and we saw strong incrementality.”
He added that he believes Smucker has “built the most robust new product pipeline we’ve ever had,” and that it can deliver the $200 million in growth the company needs each year.
During the first quarter of fiscal 2020 ended July 31, Smucker’s sales of $1,778.9 million were short of market expectations.
“As a company, we are adapting quickly to competitive and market dynamics and are already executing plans to regain sales momentum on key brands while also taking decisive actions to deliver e.p.s. (earnings per share) growth,” said Mark T. Smucker, president and chief executive officer.
Initiatives being undertaken to reinvigorate the top line include optimizing peanut butter pricing and merchandising; delivery of incremental Uncrustables sandwich volume; and the launch of the new advertising to drive brand excitement.