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Monday, April 14, 2014


“Choosy Moms Choose JIF.”


The ad campaign tagline above (created decades ago for JIF, originally a Procter & Gamble Peanut Butter Brand) stands out in the annals of brand marketing for its enviable effectiveness in building JIF’s business as well as for its amazing longevity.  And talk about the economy of language!  There are so many things that this four-word set of key copy words accomplished, among the most salient:


  • By suggesting and leading directly with a preference, it implied—without having any substantiated product claims—that JIF was a better-tasting peanut butter choice for the family (this in a highly-competitive landscape that included a number of other popular and parity-performing peanut butter brands—like Skippy and Peter Pan).
  • Even before the advent of market segmentation, it identified a psychographic segment (“Choosy/Demanding Moms”), and one that was by no means a “niche” segment.  When it comes to choosing the best for the family, which Moms wouldn’t consider themselves or at least aspire to be choosy?
  • Perhaps best of all, the line clearly communicated the behaviors the brand was seeking from those target moms:  for current JIF users, keep on being choosy with your repeat JIF purchases; for other popular brand users, if you’re really a choosy mom, switch and prove it!

Even though the JIF story comes out of the world of yesterday’s advertising, we think there is a fundamental principle within it that applies more than ever to all of our marketing efforts today:  Making choices (being “choosy”) is not only an essential skill, it’s an essential determinant in our brand’s differentiation and resulting competitiveness in the marketplace.  Given the importance of making the right, or at least good choices, you could well argue that choosing is one of a handful of critical core competencies required of today’s marketers.


Actually, most marketers don’t usually make the final big choices for their brands.  Rather, what they do is recommend—better yet, champion--the right/best choices for their brands.  It’s their senior management then that either agrees or disagrees with (or, more often than not, chooses to delay) making a final choice.   But still, it’s the brand-builder, the marketer and his or her team, who is accountable for determining the big strategic choices and then convincing their senior managers to agree with them.  What big strategic choices?


Of course, there are a good many, important strategic choices to be made; but we think among the very top ones are: the Positioning Target Segment(s); the Market Definition; and the Lead Behavior(s) that the brand requires from its Target.  Most market segmentation studies we’ve seen tend to identify anywhere from, say, four to five Target Segments.  It’s rare that any two of these will comprise more than 40-50% of the total market volume.  And there’s the rub in getting senior managers to go along with the one or two Target Segments that the Brand Team chooses:  how can we expect to deliver our volume targets when we are only positioning the brand against half or less of the total market volume?  Unfortunately, as we have described in many DISPATCHES over the years, virtually no brand can effectively position itself against every Target Segment in a market.  By definition, the differing attitudes and behaviors within these segments qualify some as “ideal” for our brand to win with…and others as “most unlikely” for our brand to win with.  Oh yes, and one other little detail:  no brand ever has sufficient resources to effectively position itself against everyone in a given market.


Making strategic choices about the Market Definition (those other products, services, treatments/procedures, even current non-usages against which our brand will “compete”) would seem to be an easier task.  Alas, it’s not usually all that much easier to choose here either.  Take, for example, a new pharmaceutical pain reliever about to be launched.  As is typically the case, there are already other Rx drugs on the market that are indicated for the same pain-states as the new drug; naturally, a big part of the new drug’s Market Definition will be those existing competitors--especially when the new drug has a performance advantage over them.  But once again, thinking only about volume, senior managers may insist upon adding another set of competitors to the Market Definition:  OTC pain relievers.  But how likely are customers (doctors and/or patients) to switch from an OTC to an Rx drug?  And, how likely are the big OTC pain relievers to spend big money defending their big market shares? As with adding to the brand’s Target Segments, adding more to the Market Definition is often, effectively, not to choose.


Then there is the choice of what Behavior(s) the brand’s marketing strategies and initiatives will aim to incite among the Target Segments.  Sad to say, regarding this big strategic decision there are all too often no choices made at all—either by the Brand Team or by senior managers.  Again, as we’ve discussed a good many times in previous DISPATCHES, it seems that thinking about and determining Target Customer Behaviors—such as adoption, increasing frequency of use, switching, and trading up--is simply overlooked or just plain ignored.  Instead, many marketers and their management merely implement initiatives that they hope will build share.  But precisely how this share build will happen, whether through bringing in new users, getting current users to use more, or getting competitive users to change their brand, is not specified…in other words, is not chosen.  Think about it, though.  How likely is it that a given initiative will do equally well at inciting all these behaviors simultaneously?


All of which brings us back to where we started—looking at the brilliance of that old ad line from JIF.  Those four words and the ad campaign they accompanied can be a great memory-aid for all of us marketers because they demonstrate how choosing can:  (1) identify a Target Segment to win with—“Choosy Moms”; (2) Define the Market—other leading peanut butter brands; and (3) specify the brand’s intended Behaviors from the Target Segment—sustain frequency among current users and gain switching from competitive brand users.  In short, in today’s multi-choice categories and classes of brands, marketers have just got to be choosy.


Richard Czerniawski & Mike Maloney


Richard Czerniawski

430 Abbotsford Road

Kenilworth, Illinois 60043

tel 847.256.8820 fax 847.256.8847

reply to Richard: or



Mike Maloney

1506 West 13th

Austin, Texas 78703

tel 512.236.0971 fax 512.236.0972

reply to Mike: or

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