29 October 2010

Have you allowed raisinets in your brand's portfolio?

I hate raisinets. You should, too.

This post isn’t really about Raisinets-with-a-capital-R, the candy. It’s about products that distract from the portfolio management of your brand.

What’s a raisinet?

I had a senior client who praised one of his top managers for “eliminating all the raisinets that consumed his time and attention.” The raisinets were newer SKUs, launched in the preceding couple of years to much fanfare and advertising investment, ultimately contributing only a small percentage of the brand’s total sales.

Everyone has tried a raisinet

We’ve all launched, inherited, managed or seen a raisinet. They are products somewhere beyond a line extension, restage or flanker, but not quite a new innovation. Numerous brands have launched SKUs that were consistent with brand equity but were virtually the same thing offered to the consumer by an existing product in the portfolio. Some are way overboard, like P&G’s Febreze Scent Stories, the hybrid CD player and home fragancer. Some stories have happier endings; Nabisco wisely turned down amaretto-flavored Oreos. You can acquire raisinets, as Crocs did when they bought high-end fashion footwear lines.

Don’t open a box of raisinets

In fairness many of the raisinets in your job are much harder to identify. They always seem like a good idea at the time. Large retailers get excited about new products that could drive store traffic. Management likes the sales volume the new item could bring. Marketing wants to launch something and it’s gonna be HUGE!!!

Raisinets go stale quickly

Sometimes they are huge right when they launch, but they go stale quickly because they aren’t very strategic. The retailer, the boss and the marketer all move on to something else. I’m watching one of these situations right now. A company invested in the launch of a product, then ignored it this year, and sales are declining every week.

Portfolio management

Good stewards of a brand’s portfolio don’t fall for the raisinets, and if they do, act quickly to eliminate them. I’m not referring to streamlining for the sake of efficiency. Portfolio management means knowing your consumer, identifying the segments as she sees them, and picking the products that most contribute to sales, share and brand equity.

Some call it marketing

These sound like basic principles any marketer can endorse, but in reality they take disciplined analysis and focused effort. If you make this effort, you will develop a firm sense of priorities nearly impervious to raisinets.

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