Brands in the News

Differentiating Vanilla

2 Apr 2010  

Selling mainstream spices and seasonings has to be an enormous challenge.  There are a number of strong brands in the market and there is always a risk that people will assume all the brands provide similar quality, and buy on price.  In a tough economy I suspect that many people are very willing to let price drive the brand decision in the spice aisle.

This is why I think the latest marketing effort from Spice Islands is so compelling.

Spice Islands is promoting its vanilla by noting that “Some vanillas add corn syrup to sweeten inferior beans.”  The ad then reassures the reader that Spice Islands doesn’t do any such thing, “Flavor so rich and smooth there’s no need to add the sugary stuff.”

This is smart marketing.  Spice Islands is teaching people that all vanillas are not the same, and that it makes sense to pay a bit more to get a high quality vanilla that doesn’t require corn syrup.

It is a compelling pitch and a great use of attribute based differentiation.  This isn’t fancy marketing, but it is clear and effective.

4 Responses

  1. Wai Lin says:

    In today’s world of nonstop new online marketing trends, getting back to basics seems like a smart and elegant way to accomplish the goal.

  2. josh duncan says:

    Thanks Professor!

    What a great reminder that even with a commodity product like vanilla, smart marketing (and product development) can lead to differentiation. Also, a great teaching example of how you need to educate the market and not just hope they will discover these benefits on their own.


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