Campbell Soup Company plans marketing drive

07 September 2010

NEW JERSEY: The Campbell Soup Company, the food group, is utilising tools such as umbrella advertising and a "consistent" use of promotions to attract price-conscious shoppers.

Speaking on a recent conference call with investors, Doug Conant, Campbell's president and ceo, argued a continuing emphasis on value among consumers had shaped its latest fiscal year.

"Basically, what we learned in the first half of the year - relearned; we have known it before - [is] that there are two moments of truth," he said.

"The first moment of truth is when they are in store making purchasing decisions, and the second moment of truth is when they actually prepare and consume the product."

"Over the course of the year, we focused on making sure we were competitive in that first moment of truth."

Advertising will play a major role going forward, after the organisation boosted its expenditure by 6% on an annual basis in its fourth quarter, to $221m overall.

It has also announced plans to launch an overarching campaign covering its ready-to-serve and condensed soups, which Conant expects will deliver impressive results.

"We have the beauty of the Campbell's trademark, which cuts across all of those soups very naturally. So we found a natural campaign that tests extremely well with consumers," he said.

"This will be the first time in my experience that we have a fully integrated one umbrella line campaign that will have a substantial weight behind it across the full year for soup.

"I believe the quality of this, from all of our testing, suggests that this is going to be our highest quality marketing effort that we've had in a decade that I have been here."

However, while reporting an increase in impressions in the last year, this was due to lower media rates as Campbell's "shifted" resources away from advertising and towards promotions to compete on price.

"There is a palpable change in consumer buying behaviour that's unlike anything we have experienced certainly for a few decades," said Conant. "They are being more surgical with their shopping.

"They are managing their pantries differently. They are kind of going to professional shopping in the sense that, mom is … looking at where the best deal is, and sort of surgically buying."

In response, the company hopes a similarly targeted approach should precisely match the evolving requirements of customers.

"We have to manage this by store, by customer, by event, and so what you will see from us is a much more surgical trade activation plan, focused on meeting consumer needs, by customer, by season.

"We know exactly what we need to do from a price promotion perspective."

Among the areas delivering an improvement in performance were healthy drinks and snacks, and Campbell's has outlined the goal to expand this aspect of its portfolio.

Future roll outs include VB V-Fusion+ Tea, as well as upgrades to Goldfish children's cracker brand, extensions to Arnott's Vita-Weat and a re-launch of Pepperidge Farm's Chunk cookies.

"Our healthy beverages and baked snacks brands will also be supported by stepped-up marketing," said Conant.

Data sourced from Seeking Alpha; additional content by Warc staff