Most Hated Advertising Slogan:
Best Selling Jam!
Since Ohio farmer James Monroe Smucker began selling apple butter from the back of a horse-drawn wagon in In 1897, the company has had five chief executives, all named Smucker.
Sales have skyrocketed from $632 million in fiscal year 2000 to $4.6 billion in 2010, as the company acquired iconic brands Jif, Crisco, and Folger’s and profits grew from $36 million to $494 million. Shareholders have received a total return of 309% over the past 10 years, compared with -15% for the S&P 500.
Their secret ingredient? Al Yeagley, a vice president who has been with Smucker for 36 years says:
“The real secret is the family. They treat people the way you want to be treated. It’s the old golden rule.
In fact, Smucker ranked No. 1 on Fortune’s list of Best Companies to Work For in 2004.
According to Richard Smucker:
We’re really all about managing and marketing brands.
Smucker’s family-friendly values are its brand, its philosophy and its practice. Smucker won’t buy TV commercials on shows with violent or prurient content. It sponsors the birthday greetings for centenarians on NBC’s Today show. And, moreover, Smucker spends more than industry rivals on advertising and promotion. Its slogans are as iconic as its brands:
- “With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good”
- “The best part of wakin’ up is Folger’s in your cup”
Ascending the Brand Pyramid
Smucker wasn’t always as brand-centric. It originally focused on buying jam and jelly companies in Brazil, Britain, and Australia and producing fruit for products like Dannon yogurt and Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts.
The company undertook a sweeping strategy review in the mid-1990s, involving top executives, middle managers and factory workers, and shifted its focus to brands. Smucker understood that “real money in supermarkets is made in the middle of the store, where processed foods and well-known brands reign supreme.” Richard Smucker summarizes Smucker’s brand-focused strategy:
To own and market No. 1 brands, sold in the center of the store, in North America
This drove the company to numerous acquisitions including:
- International Multifoods (including Pillsbury and Hungry Jack)
Businesses that were inconsistent with the company’s core were sold, including its ingredient businesses, overseas operations, and weaker brands. For instance, on the theory that Smucker can have an impact on what Americans eat for breakfast and lunch (PB&J), but not at dinner, it kept Hungry Jack pancakes and syrups , but sold off dried potatoes. Coffee has become the company’s biggest segment.
And now you know why with a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good.