Marketing Insights: When It Comes To Brand Longevity, Is It Good Luck Or Good Marketing?

Goya's 75 years is a tribute to a great company but is also a testament to sound marketing.

By John Stanton, Contributing Editor

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Phil Mickelson once said, "The more I practice, the luckier I get." And I think many food companies believe "luck" is often a major part of the company's success.

Goya has followed many [marketing] key principles: Focus, Focus, Focus... Advance and Secure.... and Get and Stay Close To The Customer.

Goya is celebrating 75 years in business, and I've heard some people say how lucky Goya is for being in the right place at the right time. Today Goya is not only a primary brand for Hispanic shoppers but it is also developing a following among crossover shoppers.

If you ask me, "luck" had nothing to do with it. Goya followed the key principles of marketing from day one, and it is reaping the rewards for consistency and a long-term view of marketing. 75 years ago Goya recognized there was a market underserved by traditional grocery stores. It recognized there were "riches in niches," and also recognized traditional grocery stores did not really want to be bothered with serving the Hispanic consumer. Goya’s consumers are wonderful customers. They cook more at home, use more from scratch ingredients, are loyal to stores, use less coupons, and walk on water … all right, they do not walk on water.

Goya followed the marketing principles. The company tailored its assortment to specific neighborhoods and specific to each store. One-size-fits-all was not part of Goya's philosophy. According to Ad Age, it paid off. "Even at one-size-fits-all Walmart Stores, which accounts for only about 10 percent or 15 percent of Goya's sales, the company [Goya] is one of the few Walmart allows to stock locally," the newsmagazine says.

Second, in keeping with age-old Hispanic tradition, Goya was a loyal supplier. Like any other good sales company, it of course wanted more space, but its emphasis has been to allow the supermarket operators to trust Goya to provide its Hispanic shoppers with all of their needs. As the Hispanic market increased so did Goya’s selling space. However, because of this trust Goya was able to penetrate a variety of categories within the store, which may have been impossible to do without the belief that Goya had the Hispanics’ best interests at heart (as well as its own profit motive). Goya products appear in the center of the store, in the frozen section, in beverages, snacks and cookies and more.

But the big payoff was about to come. As the traditional American palate is expanding to enjoy a variety of different cuisines, tastes and flavors, Goya is sitting pretty. And as a good marketer, it's taking advantage of it. Goya is spending a significant amount of money targeting "kitchen artists" -- consumers of any ethnicity who want to cook at home and put an interesting new dish on the table for their family with some regularity.

Goya has followed many of the key principles in my book, "Success Leaves Clues." Rule number 7: Focus, Focus, Focus. It has never lost focus on who it is selling to. Rule 10: Advance and Secure. While Goya has moved into the crossover market of non-Hispanics, it still has a very secure position in the Hispanic market. Rule 3: Get and Stay Close To The Customer. Goya knows Hispanics and has "moved" with the Hispanic market. It has also helped its customers (supermarkets) to stay in tune with their customers’ needs.

As Ad Age reports, "As America changes, Goya sees new opportunities. It is testing concession stands at Major League Baseball stadiums, selling Cuban sandwiches and empanadas at Salsa on the Go in Yankee Stadium…"

Needless to say I like Goya, but my article is about good marketing which I like even more. Success in marketing is not about luck. It is about really understanding what marketing means. It is not making people buy what you want to sell, but making what people want to buy. It is about taking a long term view of how you intend to serve consumers and not a quarter at a time. It is about staying focused and growing with your market and not trying to be everything to everybody.

It is hard to be a good marketer today. Very few companies really want to serve customers, contrary to their mission statements plastered all over their buildings. They want customers to serve them and to make their Vice President of Finance happy. Marketers who really advocate for a customer focus are often the "lucky" ones.

Marketing works! There are examples of food companies that tirelessly follow sound marketing principles, but today I think there are fewer each year. But those who do, often win.
Goya’s 75 years is a testament to a great company but is also a testament to good marketing.

This article originally appeared in the July 2013 issue of Food Processing magazine.

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