ConAgra Foods’ Slim Jim brand had a marketing epiphany—by marketing to its sweet spot of guys 19 to 29 who are at the onset of adult responsibility, they would appeal to guys that are both younger (12-18) and older than this sweet spot (30-39). From the ages of 12 to 17, guys aspire to be 18, and by the time they reach 29, these slightly older men wish to do some of the ‘carefree’ things they did when they were 18. Giuseppe D’Alessandro, Global Vice President of Strategic Marketing at ConAgra, explains the insight behind the brand’s marketing strategy:
“When boys are kids, they aspire to be a ‘guy’ and do guy things like dating, driving and drinking. As they grow older, they learn more about the responsibilities of being a guy—getting a job, having a serious girlfriend. The pendulum swings the other way, and they want to enjoy guy things sometimes like playing video games. We call this ‘guy-time.’”
With this marketing insight, Slim Jim has embarked on one of the clearest positioning strategies I’ve seen. As Giuseppe explains, the product itself fits with the idea of “guy-ness” because it’s somewhat primal—meat you tear with your teeth.
As for marketing campaigns, the brand identified gaming as a metaphor for “guy-time.” It’s a very specific kind of gaming that guys particularly enjoy, described as console gaming with racing, combat, warriors and battles. As the graphic shows, Slim Jim uses in-store displays, along with online promotions to align the brand with gaming.
Recently, the brand partnered with game developer Electronic Arts with an on-pack promotion that “offers consumers free in-game content and a chance to win more than 1,000 gaming prizes.”
Because the target market is guys 19-22, the brand heavily utilizes social media and targeted, edgy advertising. For instance, its current emphasis on Facebook is to promote the “Tribute to the Troops” promotion:
Giuseppe mentions that Slim Jim is evolving its marketing to become more urban and multi-cultural through hyper-targeting—all in an effort to connect with “guys” as effectively as possible.
Finally, the Slim Jim website is clearly designed for the target demographic, with engagement devices, videos and messaging all aimed at increasing “guy-ness” in their target market.
Whatever your target market, brands can learn from Slim Jim’s highly-specific positioning strategies. They identified their target audience, the specific ‘guy-time’ occasion mindset, and appealed to them through the specific channels and messaging (even at the expense of other possible audiences).