Extending the Brand

It’s finally spring.  At least that’s what the calendar says.  A visit to the neighborhood hardware store confirms the change of seasons.  Lawn mowers, grass seed and fertilizer, and outdoor furniture have taken the place of snow shovels and snow blowers.  Huzzah!

One new product that’s found its way into my consciousness is wild bird food (It’s the stuff they used to call "bird seed".) sold by Scotts-Miracle Grow, the lawn and garden care people.  What a great idea for a line extension!  It seems to be a natural.

The company got into the bird seed food business by acquisition.  They bought a company that was already number two in the market.  It’s hard to see how they could fail.

[By way of full disclosure, I’ve been on the front end of a lot of new product lines.  Some were very successful.  Some were disasters. With 20/20 hindsight, it’s fairly easy to see what went right and what went wrong.]

The key questions here are who buys the product (consumers) and who sells it (retailers).  In this case the retailers and the consumers are the same ones who sell and buy Scott-Miracle Grow’s core products.  If Scott’s sales reps had to start calling on music stores, the product would never make it.  If the product were strictly for indoor birds, the company’s powerful brand position with folks who like to work outside wouldn’t mean as much.

But stores that sell grass seed also sell bird seed food (usually) and the people who buy grass seed are the ones who put out the bird feeders.  That green oval logo with the white lettering means something to them.  In fact, it wouldn’t take much to convince most folks that by buying the company’s bird seed food, you might keep the birds from eating your grass seed.

The thing is, we’re all looking for new products that we can sell.  It just makes a lot of sense that any addition to our lines should be something that our current customers would naturally buy.  Sewing machine customers aren’t necessarily the best prospects for Harley-Davidson motorcycles, but they definitely buy vacuum cleaners.  Someone shopping for a ceiling fan doesn’t expect to see power tools in a fan shop, but occasional furniture might be just what they need.

It’s very important to maximize the value of each customer by selling them additional merchandise.  Most retailers are looking at a lot of different things.  Don’t make your job harder by stocking merchandise that your regular customers aren’t likely to buy.

2 Responses

  1. Something you might find interesting: As the economy cools, companies are starting to shrink their travel budgets — a move likely to put further strain on struggling airlines. Hotels, car-rental agencies and restaurants, which along with airlines employ roughly 4 percent of U.S. workers, will also feel the pinch. So far, travel bookings are holding up. But corporate travel managers are taking a more active role in keeping on-the-road spending in check: — Employees are increasingly being asked to provide an economic rationale for their trips. — Rules that require employees to book the lowest fare, stay in pre-approved hotels or double-up in cars and rooms are being enforced more strictly.

  2. I was traveling over the weekend and there did seem to be fewer people than normal in SOME of the places we visited. Others seemed normally busy, or even a little better than usual. Of course, the weather may have been a factor, including snow yesterday morning in St. Louis and even in southwest Missouri.

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