New product launch

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Campbell’s Soup, once a high flier, has hit a snag. Condensed soup sales are as down 3%, while ready-to-eat soups fell 1%. So what should they do? Here’s uncle Steve’s take. Go deep into R&D and make the product healthier. Find some salt substitute and flavor enhancer that makes soups more desirable. Help retrain our palates. Soup should then be re-positioned as a healthier-for-you meal alternative. Filled with good stuff, low in bad stuff – including calories.

Soup is convenience food until it’s time to eat. And that’s a good thing. I, for one, eat way too quickly. Maybe it’s a savannah holdover from millennial ancestors but scarfing is not healthy. Soup has to be eaten slowly. Leverage the spoon and bowl, sitting at a table, the common sense approach to eating. Throw in a little family, some civilized soup eating etiquette and you may create a new trend a la ramen-for-the-hipsters. A friend of mine with a blood pressure and weight issue was told by his doctor to eat light at dinner. Healthy soup would be perfect.

There was a tagline for Campell’s a while ago, “Soup is good food.” Not a bad tagline. If soup was good food — but for the most part it’s not. Certainly not processed soup.  Campbell’s needs to fix that. Then they need to not just claim it, they need to prove it.

In 5 years if 80% of consumers agree that soup is a healthier-for-you dinner alternative, sales of Campbell’s should be up double digits. Peace.


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Back in the day, okay back before the day, marketers learned how to market by selling one-at-a-time. You made something, let people try it — if they liked, you sold it.  What was learned from the first sales experience was parlayed into the next and so on until roll-out.  First limited, then as demand dictated.

Today, many small and mid-size company goods and services, especially of the tech variety, are incubated, venture-funded, business planned, social media-eyezed and launched without this up close and personal one-at-a-time process. Many nouveau markets go big using accelerated timeframes without allowing for an evolved sales immersion. Fall forward fast some call it.  If you are using other people’s money, it’s like going to college in reverse.

David Ogilvy once said, and I paraphrase, “Our business is infected with people who have never sold a thing in their lives.” He, of course, was referring to the ad business. 

My suggestion to start-ups today: It’s okay to incubate and code and pitch, but please, please, please don’t forget to sell.  Look into the eyes of your buyers. Feel them. Listen to them. Don’t be shined on by you uncle in the business. Don’t let the dream get in your way. Peace.

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