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A taste for brands: lessons from Mentos

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It takes time for a brand to develop and become well known among consumers. Satisfying your customer’s needs is an important part of this.

Garry Browne is the CEO of Stuart Alexander, a marketing and distribution company that changed its focus from a merchant/importer to marketing specialists.

Despite more than 120 years of experience and success in the import business, this privately owned company changed its image and embarked on an aggressive growth plan which most notably saw it purchase brands such as Aussie-icon, Rosella.

Here’s what Browne has to say about brands:

“Our expertise and experience really is about building brands and developing them – we have spent our history developing brands such as Mentos, the Werthers brand, Tabasco, Fisherman’s Friend. They’re all brands everyone knows as household brands. We’ve been the custodians for those brands. The Rosella and Luken & May biscuit brands we acquired because we wanted to share in their long-term success.”

Many of the brand names mentioned are foreign and at one stage not known here. Browne’s job was to get the licence to bring them in and develop the brand within Australia.

“We identified opportunities for those brands based on the fact that they were niches and segments within the marketplace of Australia and those brands have been successful because they satisfy a consumer need,” he says.

Browne’s life could be coveted by some. He travels overseas regularly, looking for new products that could be brought back to Australia. But he says that it’s not all play.

“These sorts of opportunities take many years to develop and while we may have many opportunities presented to us over time, we probably knocked back more than we actually took on because you have to ensure that the business and the brand owner you engage with is going to be culturally aligned to you – that the brand is going to have an opportunity and that you are prepared to invest and develop to ensure its success.”

To get an idea of how a brand develops over time, I asked Browne to give a few clues about Mentos, a well-known lolly. I was young when it came on the market.

“Mentos we’ve represented since the early 90s. We spent time working out what we could achieve, working very much with the brand owner and investing and ensuring that we established a niche in the Australian market, to see Mentos succeed – we are the market leader in the pocket pack segment of the confectionery aisle.”

Over the years no doubt there have been mistakes along with fantastic wins because when it comes to marketing, in a sense it’s ‘suck it and see’. In the case of Mentos it’s a good analogy that some things work in some areas. For example, it would be great for Alan Jones to say, “When I get up every morning, I have a Mentos!”

Browne continues: “We spent a lot of time talking to consumers and talking to new potential consumers. And there’s a lot of gut feeling that goes into whether you think a brand is going to work. If you think that there is an opportunity, then it’s a matter of testing it with the consumer.”

So, if you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching.

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Published on: Friday, April 22, 2011

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