THOMASVILLE, GA. — While Nature’s Own is the best-selling soft variety bread brand in the United States, its potential for further growth is considerable, said Debo Mukherjee, chief marketing officer of Flowers Foods, Inc.
Flowers’ strategic plans for Nature’s Own formed the core of a presentation Aug. 7 by Mr. Mukherjee during a virtual Flowers Foods investor update after the company released second-quarter financial results.
Mr. Mukherjee set the stage for the discussion of Nature’s Own by offering background on the overall bread category, which he described as “one of the most vibrant” in the supermarket. He said 98% of households purchase bread, equating to 128 million to 130 million households, buying it on average once every 12 days. At $24 billion and growing, the category is one of the largest.
“So you’re talking about a very large category, very dynamic, reaches a lot of households and pantries and is purchased with a great frequency,” he said.
Because consumers increasingly are purchasing branded rather than store brands, they are paying more per loaf, giving baking companies like Flowers the opportunity to create a “profitable growth environment,” he said.
To achieve this objective, bakers must ensure their brands are relevant with consumers. He offered snapshots of how Flowers seeks to establish connections with mothers to two of the company’s largest brands.
“We know that moms seek to make everyone in their homes happy with her offerings and her foods,” Mr. Mukherjee said. “We also know that she’s got a keen eye toward health. So for those moms that want to balance both happy and healthy, we bring you Nature’s Own.”
While Wonder is Flowers’ largest white bread brand, the company’s message to consumers is more aspirational.
“With Wonder, we don’t talk about white bread necessarily in the payoff for the brand promise,” Mr. Mukherjee said. “What we talk about is moms wanting to inspire imagination in their children. So inspiring child-like wonder, thus being the tagline.”
Expanding on the Nature’s Own message, Mr. Mukherjee went deeper into the aspirations of the mother who is busy and on a budget but wants to “convey love, comfort or even bonding to her family.”
Freshness holds a key to conveying such a message, Mr. Mukherjee said.
“We then translated that (insight) to our unique selling proposition for Nature’s Own, which is from scratch to shelf in 48 hours,” he said. “And therefore, Nature’s Own gets well positioned in conveying that comfort and love that a mom wishes to express, all the while also having the rational attributes of being healthy and having no preservatives, colors or flavors in addressing that consumer’s needs.”
In terms of opportunity to build the market for Nature’s Own, Mr. Mukherjee said the potential is considerable. Aided awareness of the brand (“Have you heard of Nature’s Own?”) is over 70%, he said, adding “more powerfully, it’s the unaided that we really want to seize on.” Unaided awareness is far lower, at 15%, he said.
He explained, “A way to interpret that then is that 15% of the households could rattle off Nature’s Own without even being prompted, right? So of the 128 million people, it stands to reason that if I can raise my unaided awareness, it would convert to a greater degree of sales.”
Of the 98% of households purchasing bread, only 30% buy Nature’s Own.
Additionally, in contrast to the 12-day cycle of bread purchases overall, Nature’s Own is bought once every 30 days, Mr. Mukherjee said.
“I have an opportunity, therefore, to help drive incremental consumption of Nature’s Own once it’s in the pantry, by offering perhaps more usage ideas addressing different dayparts. And that also helps help spawn innovation ideas as well from how to tackle the Nature’s Own franchise with that consumer base.”
Adding to the sense the brand has untapped potential, Mr. Mukherjee cited data Flowers has cited for several years suggesting it has the opportunity to grow its market share in geographies newer to the company. He said Flowers has 33% household penetration nationally, but 52% in the company’s heritage southern geography.
“Right there, you see almost 20 percentage points of upside that exists,” he said.