ConAgra Foods (NYSE: CAG) is a major manufacturer, packager, and distributor of consumer and commercial food products. It owns and operates brands such as Healthy Choice, Chef Boyardee, Hunt’s, Orville Redenbacher’s, Reddi-Wip, Slim Jim, and Hebrew National.
ConAgra holds a portfolio of well-recognized brands, and is increasing sales of these items through an increased advertising budget. With high brand awareness, ConAgra products command a large percentage of shelf space at both traditional and low-cost retailers, which further drives recognition and sales. The company earned $12 billion in revenue and $726 million in net income in 2010. with a market share of 13% in frozen snacks
However, many of these brands are high-fat or snack foods, and ConAgra will have to address shifts in consumer commodities.
ConAgra's products fall into the following categories:
Contributing only five percent to total sales, ConAgra sells many brands in the global market. The majority of international sales come from Canada and Mexico.
In 2003, ConAgra introduced a plan to integrate its businesses and improve profitability. As a large, cohesive company, ConAgra would be more efficient and better able to compete with competitors who are integrated packagers.
The following are what this strategic plan consists of:
ConAgra sold all businesses that were either too complex to integrate with the core businesses or did not achieve a profit margin greater then ConAgra's benchmark margin rate. Notable spin-offs include: Butterball, Armour, LunchMakers, and Louis Kemp Seafood.
ConAgra plans to cut co
The company plans on spending more on advertising in general to elevate sales. ConAgra will prioritize advertising funds on the brands that make-up the largest portions of sales, which have not seen strong advertisement campaigns in years. On the other hand, this directional move in advertisement will take dollars away from the less well-known brands and sales will drop amongst those products.
In ConAgra's consumer goods business, there is no one factor more important then brand awareness. How well do customers recognize your brand? If a customer recognizes your brand they are more likely to buy it, increasing that product's sales. Products are shelved in stores according to their popularity among customers (the most sales). If your product is selling for the stores, it will be placed in areas where even more customers will see and buy it. In addition, when you change a product, if your product is well placed within stores, that change will be more quickly recognized by the customers.
In recent years, ConAgra has focused much of its marketing campaign on their lower priority (less well-known) brands in order to gain brand awareness in those products' audiences. This strategy proved to not be as profitable as ConAgra had hoped and let higher priority brands lose brand awareness as marketing dollars were taken away from them. The market sentiment is that ConAgra needs to develop new, innovative products in order to maintain its position in the market amongst this audience.
ConAgra's new advertising campaign should increase brand awareness amongst their products and get products better placement in the stores. This is especially the case for brands that have lost shelf space in previous years while ConAgra has been focusing on its smaller brands.
It should be noted that overall many of ConAgra's products are not within the top three known brands in their product category, but when it come to[value-oriented customers they are the most recognizable. Hence, they have the highest sales numbers and best shelf placement in stores like Wal-Mart.
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To read a more detailed discussion of consumer health trends, see also Health and wellness.
Dietary trends in the United States are becoming healthier and a social push for increased health consciousness is apparent. Most of ConAgra's products are not considered healthy, with many falling in the categories of snack food, high-fat, high sugar and highly processed. Many believe this may be an issue for ConAgra in terms of staying competitive in the long-term.
Some of ConAgra's research and development is focused on this ongoing trend. They have already made some changes, i.e. offering "light" versions of some snacks. In a recent paper ConAgra self-reported that it has made improvements regarding transfats, sugar, and salt in its brands.
Food companies are very sensitive to contamination issues because these issues can scare the public and damage consumer loyalty and trust. However, it should be noted that this might be less of the case with ConAgra because they market their products under individual brand names.
ConAgra has a strong position amongst its competitors in terms of market share. In this chart the proxy for this number is the total number of sales by the company in the last twelve months (TTM Total Sales). ConAgra has less market share then Kraft, more then Hormel Foods, and about the same as General Mills. Some may consider this impressive because ConAgra has yet to gain market share in the international market while Kraft and others have.
ConAgra's margin, the percentage of each sale that becomes profits, is relatively low when compared to competitors. Margin is known as a good measure of profitability but could also be a signal about who ConAgra's customers are, i.e. they may be looking for the best deal and, by taking less of a profit, ConAgra attracts them to their products.