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Food brands in region get a new look

American Garden aim to create deeper loyalty among shoppers

Gulf News

Dubai: The food aisles at local supermarkets will be looking a little different. American Garden, the name behind some of the region’s popular food staples from mayonnaise to tuna, has gone in for a brand new look which is more in sync with the times. It also coincides with the company’s 25th year of operations.

“We realised the need to refresh our look and that has been more apparent in the last few years through consumer feedback,” said Murtaza Fazal, chairman of American Garden and part of Global Export Marketing Co. It is headquartered in New York while the international operations are managed from the Dubai base since the last seven years.

“The new brand promise is about ‘boldness’, ‘trying new things’, ‘spirit of sharing’, and giving consumers the peace of mind where they don’t have to worry about quality and are regularly offered new flavours and foods.”

The redesign has been going on for two years and last week was rolled out onto the region’s food shelves. Given that the brand is into more 25 food categories and 250 stock-keeping units, the new look will not be phased in at one go. As of now, five categories sport the new branding and the rest over the next few months.

The plan is to get into six new categories this year itself. American Garden’s global business totals more than $100 million with annual growth pegged at 15-20 per cent.

Changing the look and perception in the food and beverages industry has always meant a tight-rope walk for brand owners. Anything too radical and the brand may get out of sync with the intended audience – this applies even when the product inside the packing is left untouched in the rebranding programme.

“Shopping for fast-moving consumer goods is an emotional process and unlike a purchase for fashion or technology, decisions are made quickly and according to a shopper’s immediate motivation,” said James Tracy-Inglis, managing director at Saatchi and Saatchi X. “So extolling the virtues of a rebrand is rarely enough to encourage a shopper to change their well-worn habits.

“Instead, long-term loyalty and brand affinity is only achieved through a more emotional relationship with customers, by understanding a shopper’s barrier to purchase and breaking it down to improve their life. When a shopper is presented with communication and a product that will improve their life, they will be less financially focused and become increasingly loyal.

“To get to this point, messages need to be educational and free from blatant bias – i.e., presented in a form that allows a quick decision.”

Brand building exercises in the region’s food category have not been confined to the products alone. A brand new corporate entity has been formed through Mondelēz International, which now owns and markets such cherished snack and beverage labels as Cadbury, Oreo and Tang. This came about following the spinning off of the snack business of Kraft Foods in the fourth quarter of last year. In this case, none of the individual brands went through an identity change, except for the fact they are now owned by Mondelēz International rather than Kraft Foods.

So, how important is getting this message through to regional consumers of an Oreo biscuit or a Cadbury bar? “While Mondelēz International is new, the company’s brands are diverse and rich with heritage, some of which have been sold in the Middle East for nearly 100 years,” said Vishal Tikku, regional managing director.

“Consumers in nearly every corner of the Middle East reach for our brands - so we haven’t undertaken a global marketing campaign to support the launch Mondelēz International, as it will serve as a house of brands.”

“However, it is very important to spread the word to our other stakeholders – partners, government institutions, customers and prospective employees. It’s our intention to commit the effort to continuously improve awareness and understanding of the new company.”

In other words, the message will depend on the audience. In all good branding programmes, that is often the best way.