Innovation to drive category growth for BBQ sauces - Marks

Innovation to drive category growth for BBQ sauces - Marks

With the summer upon us, many consumers will be firing up their BBQs and donning humorous aprons. While barbecue sauces represent a relatively small segment of the overall market for table sauces, it is a category that has witnessed considerable growth of late. Geraldine Marks, licensed brands manager at Baxters Food Group, talks to Katy Askew about the company's plans for the Jack Daniels BBQ sauce range that Baxters produces under license in the UK, Europe and South Africa.

just-food: What kind of reception have Jack Daniel's sauces received from consumers and retailers since their launch in the UK in 2007?

Marks: The sauces received fantastic support, they were listed in most major retailers over the winter season and within the first year represented over 12% of category value share.

just-food: There has been a decent amount of NPD in BBQ sauces - what is motivating this? Is it a growing category?

Marks: Barbecue sauces accompany 21% of all BBQ occasions and so there is still much scope for enticing new consumers to add a splash of sauce on the side.  

The main red and brown sauce fixture is dominated by one or two key players, alongside own label. The BBQ sauce and marinade category, however, is a playground for much smaller players to make their name in the table sauces category - hence the amount of NPD launched as a bid to grow brand share.  

Consumers are constantly seeking new flavours, and the trend for hotter and spicier variants looks set to continue. However, differing levels of heat are now being introduced in a bid to encourage more females into a largely male dominated consumer arena. Summer 2012 looks set to become another battleground for NPD, with strong promotional activity and more BBQ occasions than in recent years for brands to capitalise on, including the Olympics, Jubilee and Euro 2012.

just-food: Is there much more NPD for Jack Daniel's sauces in the pipeline?

Marks: We are looking at developing a range of limited-edition flavours, the first of which will be available in the UK in Spring 2013. Utilising a mechanic such as this brings something new to the category, shakes things up and refreshes consumers' interest in the brand and its flavour profile.

just-food: Obviously, the Jack Daniel's name acts as a USP - how important is this?

Marks: Jack Daniel's has had a long association with BBQ in the US and the iconic nature of the brand is what drives many consumers to trial the product.

just-food: Does the Jack Daniel's name mean that you are able to attract new consumers to the category and drive incremental growth, or does sales expansion rely on taking share from the competition?

Marks: Innovation will always be key to driving category and brand growth in the face of bigger competitors, as well as cut-price promotional strategies.

just-food: What consumer segments are you targeting with Jack Daniel's BBQ sauces?

Marks: The sauces are typically targeted at ABC1 males, aged 18-34. However, ABC1 females aged 18-54 (as the main household shopper) are secondary targets as they purchase the sauces for their husband, son, father etcetera.

just-food: What other markets are Jack Daniel's BBQ sauces available in?

Marks: Outside of the US, Jack Daniel's is sold in the UK, across Central and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Iberia and South Africa.

Baxters Food Group holds the license to produce, sell and market for the UK, Europe and South Africa. Our biggest markets currently are the UK and Germany where the brand has enjoyed incredible success. There are no further plans currently to expand outside of these territories.

just-food: Sales of BBQ sauce are obviously quite seasonal - are you doing anything to try and achieve year-round appeal?

Marks: It's a shame that retailers seem to shoehorn the barbecue season in straight after the Easter weekend and remove it in time for Back to School activity. The BBQ season is weather dependent, however UK consumer tastes are becoming more adventurous, with a trend towards hotter and spicier flavours.

Consumers buy our range because of the year round versatility of the product on the grill and the stove, allowing the product to be used whether the weather is good or not. Used as a dip and marinade, brushed over meat and vegetables during cooking or added to chilli-con-carne, stew and sauce, the range adds a taste of luxury alongside the rich BBQ flavour.

Since launching the brand in the UK and across Europe we have been educating consumers via a series of winter warmer and Christmas recipes that BBQ sauces can be used to great effect with every day and festive foods.