A matter of taste

15/07/2003 - 22:00

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Julie-anne Sprague takes a look at the strategies used by  local ice cream maker Peters and Brownes to turn its Connoisseur premium range into a $10 million brand. A PRODUCT launched to combat a competitor’s market push has developed

A matter of taste

 

Julie-anne Sprague takes a look at the strategies used by  local ice cream maker Peters and Brownes to turn its Connoisseur premium range into a $10 million brand.

 

A PRODUCT launched to combat a competitor’s market push has developed into a multi-million dollar success story for local ice cream manufacturer Peters and Brownes.

The company’s Connoisseur ice cream range was launched 15 years ago to oppose the anticipated arrival of global premium ice cream producer Haagan Daaz into the Australian market

The Connoisseur range now enjoys a 70 per cent stake of WA’s premium ice cream mar-ket, is exported to six countries, and its sales are continuing to climb.

Estimated by the company to be worth $10 million, the Connoisseur brand is marketed using a mixture of point of sale material, press and magazine advertising and sponsorships.

The brand also offers Peters and Brownes something of a non-price sensitive product to market.

According to Peters and Brownes corporate analyst Steven Adams, the brand is now valued at $10 million and has had a 30 per cent growth in sales in the past three years.

“The gourmet sector was a growing area and was also a profitable area. The ice cream is around $7 for a litre and it’s more sustainable and less affected by specials,” Mr Adams said.

While its core market is females aged 25 to 45, there is a growing number of men purchasing the product on impulse, and according to Connoisseur brand manager Tarryn Hinson, research by Peters and Brownes suggests the black and gold packaging may be the significant factor.

“Interestingly, as a proportion of total ice cream tub sales, a higher proportion of men are more likely to buy Connoisseur than other brands,” Ms Hinson said.

“This is largely because men are more likely to make an impulse purchase where price is not a factor and research indicated that the black and gold nature of the Connoisseur packaging is appealing to men.”

Other Peters and Brownes research into the brand also led to a name change of its flagship Connoisseur product, Classic Vanilla.

“Connoisseur Classic Vanilla was formerly Bourbon Bean Vanilla, however due to confusion among Australian consumers with regard to the assumption that this variant contained whisky, the variant name was simplified to Classic Vanilla,” Ms Hinson said.

The range’s domestic marketing strategy is quite different from that overseas, according to Mr Adams.

“In Australia we have been using the shot of a male torso and it appeals to the female market as well as the gay market; we sponsored the Sydney Mardi Gras last year and it worked well,” Mr Adams said.

“But for the Asian market that style of advertising is not applicable. We play on the quality aspect.  Australian dairy products have a great name in Asia and we use that.”

He said more money was being spent on marketing the brand.

“The sales are growing so the amount we spend annually is increasing. It has been quite substantial in the past three years.”

Mr Adams said Peters and Brownes shied away from television advertising in prefer-ence to press and magazine advertising, cinema sales and corporate sponsorships.

“We’ve done a lot of work with our media buyer about what media habits our consu-mers have,” he said.  “Connoisseur consumers are not high users of television; they are higher users of press, magazines and new technologies.

“We have gone into cinemas because we can sell ice cream there, but also because our target market is more likely to be there.”

Mr Adams said more aggressive marketing in the past three years had increased the brand’s value by $4 million.

“About three years ago the brand awareness was extremely low and its still relatively low, but that is because it is a premium product with a defined target market,” he said.

“We believe brand awareness has increased 50 per cent in the past three years.”

Mr Adams anticipates continued domestic and offshore growth of the brand.

“There is strong competition overseas but we can see the Connoisseur exports increasing,” he said.

Peters and Brownes uses an eastern-States based advertising agency to promote its brand, with the decision to go outside WA reflecting a need to gain greater penetration of the east coast market, according to Mr Adams.

“Our agency is Hayes Berry Tehan and they are based in Melbourne. In WA we use Core Marketing to do some work but it was decided to use an east coast agency because our market share in WA was 70 per cent compared to 17 per cent over east,” Mr Adams said. 

East coast market share had grown from 17 per cent to 29 per cent in the past three years, he said.

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