BrandTrack:Spreading the message

This month BrandTrack examines the sector for margarine and low-fat spreads. Changes in consumer demand are pressing manufacturers to launch new brands on the market, backed by large advertising and promotional budgets

Brands bought

Margarine shows an unusual market pattern, with one dominant brand, Flora, bought by a third of consumers and a strong own-label sector bought by a quarter, followed by five brands clustered around ten per cent penetration. These range from traditional Stork to recent introduction Utterly Butterly. Own-label purchase is more evenly spread between supermarkets than many grocery markets; Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Safeway all achieve five per cent penetration.

Respondents had bought 21 individual brands and another eight sub-brands: low or extra low fat variants for Gold, Clover, Delight, Vitalite and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter (ICBINB); low-fat and rich variants for Flora. Since Flora Low Fat was the only variant to achieve more than five per cent penetration, sub-brands have been merged with the main brand to give total figures throughout this article.

Nearly half the 14 per cent of respondents buying a low-fat spread were under 30 years old, suggesting that slimming is a stronger motivation than health.

Reasons for purchase

Habitual purchase is the most widespread reason for brand choice but displays unusually marked variations between brands. Clover scores highest on this dimension at 94 per cent of buyers, followed by Flora at 86 per cent, falling to 56 per cent for Utterly Butterly and ICBINB. Conversely, the latter two brands are three times more likely than any other to have been bought by consumers wanting to try a new or different product. These brands’ buyers are also more likely to give advertising as a reason for brand choice: three times higher than the average level for TV and twice for press advertising.

Price is also a strong driver in this market and is acknowledged in two forms: straight price comparison and on-pack offers. Economy is particularly important to own-label buyers, who are twice as likely as average to give this as a motivation, and for Stork buyers; on-pack offers influenced nearly a third of buyers of Gold, Stork and Clover. Price is more important to C2DE women; pack offers show little class bias, although they seem to appeal slightly more to the over-30s.

Unpremeditated brand choice at point of purchase seems to be related either to on-pack offers or to the impact of novelty, as it is highest for Clover, ICBINB and Utterly Butterly. The margarine market is unusual in that older purchasers are more likely to have made an impulse purchase and just as likely as the young to be attracted by novelty.

Advertising recall

Spontaneous advertising recall presents a very different picture from the purchase table. Utterly Butterly leads with 34 per cent of buyers naming the advertising, followed by ICBINB at 27 per cent and Flora at 23 per cent. Vitalite is the only other of the 20 brands named to achieve more than ten per cent awareness.

A third of all buyers could not remember seeing or hearing advertising for any brand. Overall recall is twice as high in the North and Scotland as in the rest of the country, and among the under-30s, compared with the over-40s. There is also a notable skew downmarket; two-thirds of C2DEs can name advertising for at least one brand, as opposed to less than half of the ABC1 buyers.

Media expenditure

Expenditure is dominated by Van Den Berghs, which accounted for 61 per cent of annual expenditure; five of the company’s brands – Flora, ICBINB, Olivio, Stork and Delight – are among the top ten spenders. St Ivel contributes 15 per cent, Kraft 14 per cent, Dairy Crest and Pact four per cent of the total. The rest is made up by nine small brands, none spending more than 60,000.

Budgets are more evenly spread between media than in most grocery markets, television taking 76 per cent, press 18 per cent and posters five per cent of the total. Press is employed mainly to support promotions on television, forming the backbone of the major brands’ campaigns, with the exception of Pact, which only uses press and posters.

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