The J.M. SmuckerS Company owns a variety of brands, including trendier brands such as Dunkin Donuts Keurig cups, Cafe Bustelo, Nature’s Recipe pet food, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition (it’s currently “cool” to own pet food companies), as well as its older brands of Folgers Coffee, Jif peanut butter, and, of course, the Smucker jams.

The current jam for Smuckers is its lack of attention to its original products.  As is so often true with conglomerates who keep adding products and expecting the original products to fend for themselves without much marketing assistance (that is, dollars invested in the product), but relying only on brand recognition.  That approach has really never worked – we can all remember in our childhoods, the heavy marketing of various coffee brands  – from Folgers to the “good-to-the-last-drop” folks.  It took a lot of heavy marketing to sell those products then and it tales the same amount of effort to sell them today.  Regrettably, the companies who own them forget about that and get too busy pushing things like Dunkin Donuts keurig cups instead, to try to make themselves look “hip.”  No brand is going to be able to fend for itself in this crowded marketplace.  If a company owns an iconic brand, they have the responsibility to promote it.  Else, the brand needs to passed on to a company who will both appreciate it and promote it.  CEO Mark Smucker has recently said that the company is working on “longer term initiatives to reinvigorate coffee rituals for this iconic brand (that is, Folger’s).”  Hunh – ?  What might “reinvigorating coffee rituals” even mean?  The modern-day equivalent of a coffee ritual is going to Starbucks.  The only coffee ritual of the past that comes to mind were those that took place in our childhoods, where most families sat down to breakfast together and the “grown-ups” had their cups of coffee, being proud to tell themselves and others that they were using Folgers, Maxwell House, Hills Bros, etc. and remembering the recent ads they’d seen on TV extolling the virtues of their product of choice.  I hate to break it to the CEO, but those days aren’t coming back.  One ritual that might be useful is to tap into those ads of yesteryear and sell Folger’s based on nostalgia for an America of the past.  Either that or, link up with Starbucks to sell Folgers.  A good ad campaign might even make that work, to the benefit of both Smucker’s and Starbucks!

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