Lean Cuisine Keeps Your Budget On Track

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The Lean Cuisine brand was created as a line of low-fat frozen dinners targeted at people who are watching their weight. You’d expect that their ads would reinforce the weight-loss angle.

But this ad doesn’t mention low-fat or weight-loss even once. The closest they come is in the headline, where they say that it’s “good for you.” But “good for you” is vague and can mean many different things (or nothing at all).

Instead of going for the weight-loss angle, they’re adjusting their message as a result of  changes in consumer spending patterns. The headline says, “good for your wallet.” The copy contains the phrase, “keeps you and your budget on track.”

Americans are cutting back on spending and Lean Cuisine is dropping the low-fat message in favor of a message that stresses value.

While writing yesterday’s post on Jell-o, I came across a transcript of a podcast by Tina Manikas from December, 2008. Tina has the lengthy title of EVP, Global Retail and Promotions Officer for Jell-o’s (Kraft’s) advertising agency, Draftfcb. Here’s an excerpt:

But (the bad economy) is really giving birth to new consumer behavior. Both consumers as consumers, and how they behave as shoppers. So what’s also interesting is that for the first time ever, they’re actually using more coupons than ever before. We’ve seen redemption rates fall over the years and the last year they’ve risen…

…Consumer behavior is really the key we need to look at to really maintain our brand value…

So what does this mean for marketers? You know it depends on the category. But really it’s about becoming truly relevant and staying relevant in these economic times. And let’s not be assumptive; we really have to hit it home like a sledgehammer with the consumers and not assume that they can come to that conclusion on their own.

The value proposition is the key. For instance, shoe repair sales are up this year as are fast food as I said before. So what are marketers doing? What can we learn?

I think what we can learn is how to best frame value. Messaging is really critical. Because consumers respond to messaging. Also where best to frame the value? Where is it best to go?

…So the trick is not to devalue your product, but to reinforce our value to shoppers. There are some messaging do’s that we need to really think through. First of all, we need to reframe brand value in a relevant way to shoppers. How is your brand relevant in these times? Is it the smart choice? Is it the affordable treat?

For instance, Jell-O saying that it’s only 25 cents a serving. You could still wiggle and giggle your way around. It is framed as a better choice from something more expensive. For instance, DiGiorono saying it’s the delivery pizza without the delivery cost. So the quality is there, so you’re not giving up on the quality but you’re doing it in a more affordable way.

In today’s marketplace, the new buzzword is value. Watch for it everywhere.


By Marc Librescu

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