Marketing Research Turns Childhood Treat Into Adult Indulgence
Quick, name a family-friendly, easy dessert that’s fun to eat. Odds are better than even that your first thought was JELL-O, the jiggly gelatin dessert with the name that’s been synonymous with dessert for nearly a century. In fact, the story of JELL-O reflects the importance of branding in establishing market share, and of marketing research in recognizing market trends in time to take full advantage of them.
The formula for JELL-O was patented by a gentleman named Peter Cooper in 1845 and in 1897, Waits sold the patent to Frank Woodward for $450.
Woodward, a school dropout with a genius for marketing, redesigned the packaging and started a marketing campaign that would make modern marketers green with envy. He gambled big and launched a national newspaper and magazine advertising campaign that touted JELL-O as “America’s Most Famous Dessert.” To bolster that claim to fame, Woodward sent salesmen out equipped with boxes of JELL-O and recipe booklets to do demonstrations. He invested in celebrity endorsements from the nation’s best known names and by 1906, JELL-O sales topped $1 million.
The early history of the brand’s products shows how nimble the JELL-O company was in the face of its product research. Chocolate JELL-O bounced in and out of the brand lineup for decades before finding a permanent home as JELL-O Chocolate Pudding – which is indelibly connected with Bill Cosby, thanks to an incredibly successful brand marketing campaign that spanned three decades.
By 2009, though, marketing research showed that JELL-O products were losing market share to yogurt desserts and other healthier alternatives. At that point, Kraft, who now owned JELL-O, made another of the famous marketing decisions that have kept the brand’s name at the top of the desserts market for over 100 years – they introduced three new marketing campaigns to reposition the brand, reinforce its fun reputation and establish it in a new marketing segment.
Over the years, marketing research and product research have helped JELL-O establish its brand image and make constant and consistent tweaks to keep it fresh and fun. The company provides a potent illustration of the importance of brand research to help companies stay on track and on top of their brand’s image and ‘place’ in the consumer’s mind.
Can you name any other brands who have been as successful as JELL-O in maintaining its core product, while also branching-off into unrelated industries?