Value of IMC Essay

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Integrated Marketing Strategy for…a New Protein Bar

In the fitness community, there has been increasing concern that protein bars -- traditionally marketed as a healthy source of fiber and protein for the fitness-obsessed -- are too full of sugar and are nothing more than glorified candy bars. However, bars with all-natural ingredients like Lara Bars and Kind Bars often lack adequate amounts of protein for a full 'recovery' meal. This new product is a protein bar that will be marketed as all natural, healthy, and yet a true meal replacement bar, not a candy bar. An integrated marketing strategy will be suggested to market this particular good in which all facets of the advertising, marketing, and promotions of the product will stress its naturalness and its healthy qualities (IMC, 2014, Medill School of Journalism).

Product or service description

PowerNatural Bars will be marketed to health-conscious people who work out, need a quick meal replacement bar after a hard workout, yet who want to live an all-natural lifestyle. The bars will use nuts, dried fruits, powdered egg whites, dark chocolate, honey, and other unprocessed substances that pack a nutritional punch yet leave the user satisfied. The bars will come in a variety of flavors and sizes, spanning from snack-sized 100-calorie servings to full meal replacement bars in 300-calorie sizes.

The bars will be available in a variety of retail locations. They will be available in conventional 6-pack boxes at supermarkets, and in even larger 'bundles' of boxes at big box stores. The flavors will consist of boxes in unitary flavors and mixed flavors. At drug stores and through vending machines, the bars will be available for single-size purchases. The single sizes will be ideal for gyms, where the bars can be purchased by consumers looking for the perfect protein-carb ratio to fuel or recover from their hard workouts. They will also make good snacks for people looking to lose weight who are seeking an alternative to candy bars at their offices.

Because people have a wide variety of nutritional needs, the bars will have slightly different ratios of nutrients and ingredients. Some bars will be vegan (i.e., no dairy, eggs, or honey). Others will be nut-free (for allergic consumers) and some others will be peanut-free (for people following a paleo diet that forbids legumes as well as people allergic to peanuts). There will also be a low-sugar variety for people who are diabetic or extremely calorie conscious.

Target market

Today's busy lifestyles lead many consumers to reach for the convenience of meal replacement foods. However, the popular fitness press as well as serious, peer-reviewed fitness journals question the nutritional claims made by meal replacement bars. According to one fitness website on the subject: "with sales of nutrition bars skyrocketing tenfold to $1.7 billion over the past decade, there are literally thousands of brands [of protein bars] to choose from" (Owen 2014:1). Bars, in contrast to shakes and other supplements, are particularly popular. "Sales of health and wellness bars leaped 32% last year [in 2012] to $583 million, according to Chicago-based market research firm Mintel U.S. That's twice the growth rate of the overall nutritional food and drink market" (Sweeney 2013).

Consumers are selecting bars as an alternative to a variety of meals, including fast food, candy, and other 'meals on the go.' Now "nutrition bars were originally designed for serious athletes but are now perceived as healthy, nutritious snacks or meal replacements by consumers. They may be better choices, but they are not necessarily good choices. Most contain hidden sugars, low-quality protein and a lot of additional ingredients that may not be healthy if consumed regularly" (Owen 2014:1). These new bars will be intended to offer consumers 'good choices.'

These bars will satisfy the needs of several target markets. First and foremost, they will address the needs of serious athletes (both professional and amateur) who are concerned about the artificial ingredients in traditional protein bars and meal replacement snacks. It can be very difficult to get in the right ratio of protein and carbs in the 'window' after a hard workout without resorting to supplemental bars. But often supplements have questionable components that healthy people are counseled to avoid like sugar and unnatural substances created in a lab rather than in nature. "Whey or soy concentrates are fine but are frequently used as fillers and shouldn't be listed too high on the ingredients list. Gelatin (or collagen) is often added to protein bars to improve texture. Since it is a type of protein, it contributes to the total number of grams in the bar" (Owen 2014:1).

To make bars more palatable, there are often additional added sugars and too many simple carbs that spike blood sugar. Even supposedly 'whole food' alternatives like chocolate milk (suggested as a recovery beverage) are problematic because of their sugar content or deficient because they are too carbohydrate, fat or protein-heavy like egg whites, bananas, dates, or nuts. These bars will combine a variety of ingredients but have no 'added' sugars or artificial proteins.

Natural bars will make it easier to capture women and older fitness-focused consumers, the largest-growing segments in the supplement markets. According to Food Navigator, women now make up 20% of the bar replacement market. People over the age of 55 are likewise consuming more nutritional bars. Often these demographic groups are more concerned about overall health rather than packing in the maximum amount of protein and carbohydrates into a single bar. However, they want more nutrition than is traditionally offered in a candy bar or a Lara or Kind Bar, which is not nearly as nutritious.

Overall marketing strategy

This bar will vie for attention with common 'branded' protein bars like Balance, Clif Bars, and Power Bars in terms of traditional high-protein, high-carbohydrate energy bars. Currently, these particular bars dominate the nutrition market. "Clif Bar & Co., a 20-year-old stalwart based in Emeryville, Calif., commands more than half the segment, with sales topping $340 million in 2012. New York-based Kind Healthy Snacks posted sales of more than $125 million last year" (Sweeney 2013). These bars impressive national distribution system. However, this new product would be positioned as one which offered health benefits and nutritional satisfaction while still using all-natural ingredients that people could feel good about eating.

Advertising campaign

One advertisement for the proposed product would depict two people working out. The first speaker would complain about how fatigued she felt. "I'm eating all of these protein bars but I'm still not seeing results and I'm tired all of the time."

Her workout buddy would read the label and point out all of the unpronounceable ingredients as well as all the sugar. "That's why I eat PowerNatural," she would explain, whipping out the product from her gym bag. The advertisement would stress the demonstrable, practical benefits of the bar in a way that nutritiously-conscious consumers found relatable. Also, it would show why it was superior to its competitors without naming them in a specific fashion.

A good advertising campaign for a nutritious product must combine both logos (logic) as well as pathos (emotion). Seeing healthy, fit people enjoying the bars would be an important component of the advertising.

Public relations

Similarly the public relations campaign would fuse both health and nutritional concerns. The company will partner with fitness studios to promote its product: yoga studios and Crossfit 'boxes' can be used to raise athletes' awareness about the benefits of the bars for recovery purposes. Contacting specific organizations such as celiac awareness groups to promote the gluten-free bars; organizations devoted to children's nutrition; popular magazines that cater to healthy populations for product reviews; and allowing popular fitness bloggers to sample the bars are all possible public relations strategies.

Promotions

One of the greatest challenges for any company selling food is that people become extremely ingrained in their food habits, whether those habits serve their nutritional needs and fitness goals or not. The simplest and most effective ways to encourage consumers to try the product is to offer a free sample through offering coupons. Once consumers realize the product tastes good, they are more inclined to shift buying patterns. Buying access to coveted shelf spaces that are highly trafficked in supermarkets and drugs stores is also necessary so that the bars are not overlooked and shoppers do not simply reach for their default option, regardless of the nutritional content.

Pairing with shows such as The Biggest Loser to promote the bars as healthy alternatives would be another way to gain swift traction in the media for the project: this might not be feasible during the initial, opening months of promotion but later on as the bars began to reach the target market.

Internet marketing campaign

One of the advantages of an Internet marketing campaign is that the natural ingredients and calories of the bars can be displayed on the web, encouraging consumers to compare them with less healthy competitor brands. However, as well as a 'logical' appeal, the Internet also offers the possibility for…[continue]

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