Tuesday, February 13

Brands Stray from Their Origins - Chobani, Ben & Jerry's, Nestle

We’ve seen a lot of brands stray from their core offerings lately, presumably in an effort to grow. But does it make sense? Does it destroy their heritage and soften their expertise. The answer lies in the opinions of the consumer, and definitively varies from case to case.

Like Chobani for example. Known for Greek yogurt. Kind of "invented' the Greek yogurt category, bringing innovation for the first time in awhile. Well it just launched a non-Greek version, a more classic version, called Smooth. Trying to expand its presence in a dominant grocery category. Why not? Critics say it’s an innovation step backwards, and not becoming of the step forward that the brand offered originally. What’s your experience?

Then we have Ben & Jerry's (and Haagen-Daz for that matter)...known for ultra-indulgent ice cream, right? Just launched their own non-dairy versions, perhaps to compete against Halo Top who appears to be stealing away a lot of attention. Why not? The brand has already come up with variations to the original, so a non-dairy version fits in just fine says many a fan.

And then we have Nestle, the fourth largest candy maker in the world, who announced it will no longer be in the chocolate business. And has been doubling-down on coffee and vitamins (recently bought the company who owns the Garden of Life brand), as it prioritizes its portfolio to focus on growth sectors. Why not? Having a clear vision of what you want the company to stand for isn’t such a bad thing. But how could Nestle not sell chocolate? That’s potentially a hard pill to swallow.

There was a time when it was hard for a brand to jump out of its core product offering because it was so strongly positioned that way...but as attitudes and behaviors shift, it becomes more and more important to continually shift a brand's presence in the market to align with opportunities. Flexibility has become key to growth. It just depends on why and how, right? Why not?

What do you think? Non-Greek Chobani? Non-dairy Ben & Jerry's? No Nestle chocolate? What's your experience? JIM

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