Ocean Spray’s Market and Expansion Preparation
Part I: Geographic Expansion and Message Development
Ocean Spray plans to expand and launch its well-established brands into the European market. Some problems arose with the problem mainly with regard to the unfamiliarity of cranberry juice to and the preference of box packaging over bottles by European consumers.
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Since previous market research has been done, the results of these will be needed especially those related to the concerns about the acceptability of the product and packaging. In addition, findings from secondary data on the juice market in Europe that would include demographics of juice consumers and non-consumers, competitive pricing, distribution and advertising campaigns and budgets. These would provide inputs as to what extent further research needs to be done.
Core Elements of the Problem
Given Ocean Spray’s situation, there are three things to focus on: (1) European consumers unfamiliarity or resistance to cranberry juice; (2) packaging concerns; and, (3) advertising and communication to address the first two problems. Further research should be done to understand all these problems. Inasmuch as quantitative research will have to be undertaken, matters of distribution, purchase habits, media habits and pricing may be probed as well. These standard elements of quantitative research anyway.
Ocean Spray needs to conduct several research studies to obtain inputs in developing a complete strategy that would address the needs in the marketing mix. The studies would include: (1) focus group discussions; (2) awareness attitude and usage study; (3) new product and packaging testing; and, (4) advertising testing. These studies will have to be done in sequence as listed.
Focus Group Discussions (FGDs)
FGDs will need to be conducted to get inputs for the succeeding studies and to find directions in the development of both the product and the communications. Specifically, the FGDs will try to determine the attributes that consumers use in choosing specific brands of juices. The FGDs will also provide inputs into how the product could be further developed to suit European tastes. The findings should also give ideas on possible creative handles to use in the advertising and communications.
Awareness, Attitude and Usage Study (AAU)
At the same time, the idea of cranberry juice can already be tested in this research. It would hopefully determine the degree of like or dislike that would need to be addressed in product and communication development.
The study will answer questions related to awareness, attitude and usage of the products. Which brands are the most popular among consumers and why? What are consumers’ sources of awareness? How and where do they buy the products? How do they use the products with regard to its actual consumption and packaging? Which products do they closely associate cranberry juice with?
New Product and Packaging Testing
Based on the AAU findings, the acceptability of variations of the product itself will have to be tested. The cranberry juice taste may have to be adjusted to European preferences. The packaging will have to be tested on two aspects: aesthetics and functionality. Several prototypes will have to be developed and actually tried by consumers to see if the consumers will be able to use the packages conveniently and properly among other things. Will the packaging fit into the European consumers’ culture and lifestyle? Will they find it easy to use? Will it be appropriate in Europe’s climate and other environmental conditions?
Based on the findings of all the research, the advertising and communication concepts will also have to be tested. US ads made for the US audience may not work in the European market. The question to be tested is mainly to find out if the audiences got the message of the communication and will they act accordingly as a result.
Part II. Brand Extension, Product Introduction and Message Development
Ocean Spray has developed a boysenberry juice that offers many health benefits including good nutrition and weight loss. The key problem is to determine how the product will be positioned in the market: A low calorie, weight-loss product or as a dietary health supplement?
The main strength of the boysenberry juice is of course the product itself. It is an innovative product concept with many health benefits. Ocean Spray being an established name is another strength. The company will not need to develop good consumer attitude toward its name.
However, the product being new can be a weakness. Ocean Spray does not know how consumers will respond to the brand. If the brand fails, it could even tarnish Ocean Spray’s reputation.
An opportunity for Ocean Spray is that the product would allow the company to enter a different market—that of either weight-loss market or the dietary health market.
The threat of new entrants into the product category is an important, real threat. Ocean Spray has existing competitors that can easily and quickly develop and produce a competitive or substitute product. The slower the company penetrates the market, the bigger this threat becomes .
Ocean Spray will have to do three kinds of market research studies: focus group discussions, product testing, and advertising testing. However, before going into primary market research, Ocean Spray should conduct intensive desk research to determine which of the two markets under consideration would really have the bigger potential for profits, profits not necessarily being a function of market size.
Focus Group Discussions
The first research study that Ocean Spray must undertake is to conduct several FGDs. The FGD will provide directions into almost all the questions that the brand manager may be asking. He can already explore in the FGDs which is the better positioning and test product itself in addition to testing preliminary product design and advertising message. The FGDs should have should have several groups—at least four kinds of groups upper income male, middle-lower income male, upper income female and middle-lower income female. Although a concept or visual representations of the idea may suffice for an FGD, it would be better that Ocean Spray prepares a prototype of the product. After all, boysenberry is not really a common or familiar flavor. The FGDs would also show how consumers would react to such a new concept. The purpose of the FGDs are mainly for guidance and directions and not for quantification of potentials.
New Product Testing
A product can fail if the market does not like the way it tastes. Since boysenberry is a new formulation, the product will have to be tested for its taste. Ocean Spray should have at least three different variations of the flavor. This research would allow Ocean Spray which final flavor to launch.
Since the product is a new concept, consumers will not only need to be aware of the product but also need to be educated about it. Media costs can be very high. Advertising will have to be tested whether it achieves or not its communication objectives. This can save Ocean Spray a lot of costs in the long term.
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