Zwanenberg Food Group
Branding & Communication

A new brand in your portfolio: how to make a fresh start?

Zwanenberg Food Group is among the leading European producers and exporters of, in particular, processed meats and meat preserves. In addition to its own brands, Zwan, Kips and Huls, Zwanenberg also produces other brands under private label. In 2019, the company expanded its brand portfolio by acquiring the Chicken Tonight brand, which previously belonged to Unilever. With Chicken Tonight, Zwanenberg hopes to attract more customers.


Following the thinking of Byron Sharp's How Brands Grow, Zwanenberg wants Chicken Tonight to be a good option for a larger group of people more often. Prior to the acquisition, no marketing activities were done for the brand in recent years. With this in mind, Blauw conducted a Brand Salience study to gain insight into how Zwanenberg can make a fresh start with Chicken Tonight in terms of marketing.


Understanding the category and growth opportunities for your brand

To understand the category and growth opportunities for Chicken Tonight, we first sat down with recent buyers and users of the category: products to put a meal on the table in no time. During these group discussions, we spoke with heavy and light users of the category, ranging from young to old and within different households.

Central to these group discussions was to identify all possible Category Entry Points (CEPs) that lead to purchase within the category in which Chicken Tonight competes, as well as to find out possible Distinctive Brand Assets (DBAs) of Chicken Tonight and competitors such as Conimex or Knorr. During the sessions, experiences were shared without talking about brands. With this, we got answers to questions such as:

  • At what times do you think about products within the category?
  • So where are you?
  • And who are you with, are you making a choice together or alone?
  • Is it early or late in the day, is it at all on a specific day?
  • Were you also thinking about other products at that time?

Through this out-side in mode - based on actual consumer experiences - we gain insight into how certain choices come about in the category. This is not about motivation: the why question is therefore forbidden in our studies. What matters is the context that leads to considering, buying and using products and brands in the category.

So the ultimate goal of the sessions was to create as long a list as possible of "hooks" or entry points (CEPs) that could potentially be used to increase Chicken Tonight's salience . That is, the likelihood of your brand popping up in the brain on the decisive (buying) situation. Two sessions enabled a list of over 70 moments when consumers think of the category. The sessions also revealed Chicken Tonight's key brand assets, as well as those of competitors.

Finally, in most cases qualitative research also leads to additional and occasionally surprising insights about the brand itself or how people behave in the category. These additional insights, such as in this case the difference in brand image between different age categories, are often hugely valuable on the road to brand growth.


At what times do consumers ideally think of your brand?

Together with Zwanenberg, we then started working with the outcomes of the qualitative sessions during an interactive workshop. The long list of CEPs was reduced to a set of moments when consumers should ideally be able to think of Chicken Tonight. We then tested whether this is already the case in the so-called baseline measurement. For questions we aimed to answer in this phase of the study, you can think of:

  • What entry points does the brand already implicitly know how to claim?
  • What moments are already anchored to a competitive brand?
  • Are there entry points that are up for grabs in the market?

In addition to the CEPs, we also looked at what the most important brand assets are for the brand:

  • What colors, shapes and, for example, pot shape is typical of the brand?
  • Just what assets are generic to the category?
  • With what elements will the brand differentiate itself?

In short, with the selection of CEPs and DBAs that emerged from the workshop, during the quantitative phase of the research we began to test how strongly they are (already) unconsciously linked to Chicken Tonight, in relation to the market. In such studies, we use implicit measurement methods. Here, the speed with which consumers react says something about the strength of the brand in our memory, also known as the brand memory structure. The faster one reacts, the stronger an entry point or brand asset is embedded in the brand's memory structure. We also measured how mainstream the Chicken Tonight brand is relative to other brands within the category. In other words, is it a great option for the largest group of people? Or the perfect choice for a small, select group. If you want to grow as a brand, you have to appeal to the large group - the light users.


Where are opportunities to claim CEPs and DBAs?

With this research we were able to offer Zwanenberg tools to give Chicken Tonight's salience a targeted boost. The research results show where opportunities lie in claiming CEPs and DBAs in order to expand Chicken Tonight's memory structure.

Tip of the hat? By purchasing this brand, Zwanenberg has acquired a very rich and useful memory structure from Unilever that can be used in many different ways.

This research provides a good basis for Zwanenberg to breathe new life into the Chicken Tonight brand in terms of marketing. And who knows, maybe the brand will soon be in your shopping cart.

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Ed Borsboom
Ed Borsboom