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Category Advisor: Canned and Packaged Foods—Fruit Spreads and Peanut Butter: J.M. Smucker Co.

The J.M. Smucker Co. recently embarked on a research project aimed at developing a way to bring the consumer voice to the peanut butter and fruit spread categories. The research process included both qualitative and quantitative research sessions with more than 1,500 consumers across the country.

Key findings were then used to create a consumer segmentation framework for each category, with the segments being clustered based on similar psychographic trends (i.e., lifestyle types) and behavioral patterns (i.e., frequency of use and brand loyalty). Smucker worked to ensure that the segments were defined down to the most significant level, while still being viable enough to target for both internal product development and marketing communications, as well as externally with retailers through merchandising and assortment.

With the tremendous depth and breadth of this research, Smucker discovered consumer segments within its portfolio that weren’t recognized before through traditional research methods. These newly discovered sizable consumer segments opened the door for the supplier to talk to a new group of consumers in a much more meaningful, relevant manner.

However, Smucker acknowledged that its retail partners bring the products to the consumers. That’s why Smucker teamed with a data provider to match the defined consumer segments to the national consumer panel, allowing for custom analysis at the retailer level. Presenting retailers with these custom consumer segmentation trends has opened the door to a new level of understanding and collaboration to meet the needs of the shopper.

Using the consumer segmentation, a major Southern retailer learned that its largest peanut butter consumer segment was also a large area of opportunity. The segment, while large, was under-represented in the retailer’s stores compared with the total South. Smucker provided the insight that the consumers in the target segment believed in the quality and value of brands, but they were also the second most likely peanut butter consumer segment to watch their grocery budgets more closely. By matching the national household panel against the custom segments, Smucker could identify purchasing trends and dollar leakage that led to tactical strategies to capture more of this opportunity shopper. As a result, this retailer is in the process of ensuring a strong presence of branded peanut butters, but it’s also aligning pricing to ensure that it’s competitive in the market.

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