Segmenting with Texture is a Growing Market Strategy Element
In the food and beverage market, strategy is becoming increasingly focused on texture. “Over one-quarter (27%) of the best-selling new U.S. foods and beverages launched in 2012 carried a texture claim,” according to the Institute of Food Technologists’ 2013 New Product Pacesetters Report.
The common preference among young children for foods with less texture is well recognized. The ‘smooth texture’ preference in bread has presented an opportunity for several brands. One example is Smuckers’ Uncrustables, which removes the crust from the bread on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, presenting the eater with a smoothly textured exterior. Another example is Sara Lee Soft & Smooth bread. As the name suggests, Soft & Smooth offers whole grains in the smooth texture that many children (and adults) prefer.
The Institute of Food Technologists reports that texture is increasingly becoming a differentiator for foodies and young adults as well, detailing:
“Texture is increasingly being used to confirm if a product is ‘real,’ ‘fresh,’ or ‘less processed.’ Pieces of real nuts or dried fruit signal quality in cookies and bars. Pulp delivers the same signal in fresh-squeezed juices; more than one-third (37%) of orange juice users buy juice with pulp.”
This Wall Street Journal article, focusing on the Doritos “Jacked” line, gives some insight into the functional and emotional benefits that texture provides to young adult men:
“For the Doritos ‘Jacked’ line, Frito-Lay wanted to appease its core consumers, 20-something men, who are ‘always looking for the next bolder thing’ in snacking, Ms. Kalvenes says. The company explored how thick it could go with the chip, and how big. They settled on a chip that was 40% bigger and thicker and provided a crunch that ‘rattles all the way through your ears,’ Ms. Kalvenes said. ‘It breaks into little shards in your mouth that continue to crunch all the way through.’ You ‘don't eat Doritos when you want to be comforted and soothed,’ Ms. Kalvenes adds.”
In these examples, the consistent, ongoing textural preferences in a specific product category are associated with specific segments of consumers. The consumer segment is typically used to develop a strategic portfolio of brands or products and for targeted messaging, along with product innovation.
Complementing Ongoing Preference: Market Segmentation through Need States
A different lens to segmenting with texture is to examine need states. Usage need states are defined as benefits sought in distinct situations, rather than a consistent, ongoing preference. These benefits are often emotional as well as functional.
In certain categories, such as beverages and snacks, the need state lens is critical for innovation. For example, a consumer may want a snack, such as Orrville Redenbacher’s popcorn, that delivers ‘Crunchy munching,’ which can be eaten while watching TV, perhaps to combat boredom, or to relieve stress.
Visualizing the Integrated Segment and Need State Landscape
It is very helpful to have the insight from both approaches in order to understand overlap. As shown in the chart below, certain segments of consumers have more of certain types of need states. These intersections form the tall towers or ‘hot zones’ of the diagram.
These strong intersections typically represent rich opportunity areas for innovation, because these ‘hot zones’ show frequent need states. Brands typically will innovate towards situations that frequently occur, rather than ones that rarely happen. For example, with the exception of products that target outdoor enthusiasts, the phrase “it’s good for camping” is known to be a warning sign that means the product is not relevant very often. The goal for most products is to be best for a more frequent usage situation, and, consequently, be purchased more frequently.
Segmenting with texture in the food category provides a good example of how an organization’s market strategy can benefit from looking at both need states and consumer segments, and the overlap between the two. Along with other considerations, this type of actionable insight can be used to effectively drive a brand’s product and service innovation pipeline, organizational portfolio strategy and marketing communications.