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Case Studies PART A

Case Studies PART A
Al Marshall
Gourmet Express is a small Melbourne food company which manufactures premium-priced, pre-packaged frozen meals
in single-serve packs. The meals include Chinese-style meals, Thai-style meals and Japanese-style meals with all meals
having a rice base.
The company serves the domestic Australian and New Zealand markets, and has met with a measure of success in
both these markets against larger competitors such as Nestlé, Unilever and Kraft. Some of these companies have very
large marketing budgets.
From its origins as a small catering business in the Melbourne suburbs serving the local business and residential
market Gourmet Express has grown to become a company with a $20 million turnover and 22 employees.
The owner of the business, Beverley Wong, has an interest in Asian styles of cooking, and has observed the growth
in popularity of Thai food in particular in Australia as food tastes have evolved in recent years. She sees Chinese food
as having a fairly universal appeal, while Japanese food is somewhat less popular.
There are a total of four meals in the Chinese and Thai ranges and two in the Japanese range. Beverley is happy
with a total of 10 frozen meals in the product portfolio. Sales in the Australian and New Zealand markets are fairly
evenly spread across the range, with the Chinese meals marginally the most popular.
Almost from the establishment of the company in 1992, Beverley realised that she would need to keep expanding
the business to ensure its long-term viability, and to make it an attractive proposition for eventual sale to another
company. Hence after some three years of operations, when an opportunity arose to distribute the products through
the Victorian supermarkets of a national supermarket retailer, Beverley took out a bank loan and installed production
line facilities, including some packaging machinery.
Successful supermarket sales for the products in the portfolio led to a gradual national rollout through the
supermarket chain, and in 2001 the opportunity to expand into the New Zealand market through a national chain
there. Prior to entering the latter market, however, Beverley held a series of meeting with representatives of the New
Zealand chain to ensure that her portfolio of Chinese, Thai and Japanese meals with a rice base would appeal to
New Zealand consumers with the same target market profile as the current Australian customers.
The profile is 18–34 year olds, white-collar clerical or managerial, middle to upper income, with a skew to urban
females. Such individuals are typically time poor with busy professional and social lives. They see themselves as being
interested in food and concerned with nutrition and health. Beverley Wong was relieved to know that such a
demographic and psychographic also exists in the New Zealand market, and that there are sufficient numbers of these
consumers to form a viable market for Gourmet Express.
The company’s first communications campaign using mass media went to air in the late 1990s. It was expensive
in terms of both production and media costs, but had been largely demanded by the national supermarket chain as
part of the deal to offer Gourmet Express national distribution. Its centrepiece was a 30-second television
commercial and two print media ads. Both were intended to introduce the brand to the marketplace, to create a
Midland Typesetters
PART A Environmental Analysis of International Markets
brand image and a distinctive positioning and to stress the availability of the product range through the supermarket
The creative execution for the television commercial featured an active young career woman returning home in the
evening after visiting the gym. In the first shot she is dressed in her aerobics gear and carrying a sports bag with her
office clothing. She enters her apartment where she is greeted by her small fluffy cat. Clearly she can afford to live alone,
and the apartment is furnished in a modern and minimalist style. She is hungry and goes straight to the refrigerator.
The next shot is of the freezer compartment, which contains four packs of Gourmet Express.
The young career woman reaches for one of the Thai products, and in the next shot there is a close-up shot of the
steaming Thai fish cakes sitting on a bed of fragrant wild Thai rice. The young woman is clearly enjoying her nutritious
In the last shot of the woman she is getting ready to go out for the evening, either on a date or to meet friends, and
she leaves the house saying good night to her small fluffy cat. She is dressed in a sexy short skirt and a quite expensive
blouse, and is looking very attractive.
A voiceover then comes on, along with a pack shot of several of the Chinese, Thai and Japanese products in the
range, and the brand name Gourmet Express at the top of the screen. The voiceover tagline says ‘Gourmet Express—
gourmet food for those on the go!’.
Beverley Wong was very happy with the ads and the rationale given by the advertising agency for this creative
execution. The ad was designed to convey the upmarket nature of the products, their convenience, their gourmet taste
and the fact that they allow people with busy on-the-go lifestyles to enjoy interesting flavoursome meals.
The single girl living alone in her apartment was meant to represent the type of people who purchase and consume
Gourmet Express. They are active, love life, have busy professional and social lives, yet at the same time are concerned
about nutrition and enjoy good food. They generally don’t have time to cook at home.
As part of the discussions with the representatives from the New Zealand supermarket chain Beverley discussed the
promotional support that the company could offer the supermarket chain in return for them stocking the Gourmet
Express range. It was agreed that airtime would be bought in New Zealand and the TV commercial would air there.
Since the target market is essentially the same as it is in Australia, and the New Zealand supermarket representatives
were confident that Gourmet Express would appeal to this demographic and psychographic, few, if any, problems were
This proved to be the case, and the ad went to air (supported by limited print media ads) in late 2001 in the New
Zealand market. The general feeling was that the campaign worked well in informing the target market about the brand,
and in encouraging them to trial it. Beverley Wong felt that a start had been made on building and positioning a distinct
brand image in the New Zealand market.
By mid-2004 sales in both the Australian and New Zealand markets were healthy and the two supermarket chains in
both countries appeared happy with the revenue being generated. There was a good relationship with them. It was at
this point that Beverley Wong decided to look further afield in her quest to build a strong and viable company that
would be an attractive asset for one of the multinational food companies like Nestlé, Kraft or Unilever to acquire in the
Through an export consultancy, which Beverley used to set up the exporting venture to New Zealand (and the relationship
with the supermarket chain there), an opportunity for exporting the full product range to South Korea, Taiwan,
Hong Kong and Macau was identified. This would involve the exporting consultancy making contact with potential
Midland Typesetters
Case Studies PART A
distributors in these markets (either wholesalers or retailers) and ascertaining their interest in the range of Chinese,
Thai and Japanese rice-based frozen meals. Ideally, a relationship with a large supermarket chain in each of these
markets could be developed.
Both Beverley and the export consultancy felt that Gourmet Express products might find a ready market in North-
East Asia. Younger people working in white-collar jobs in these countries have busy lives, a disposable income typically
unimpeded by large-scale financial commitments and a desire to eat tasty meals. Furthermore, market demand for preprepared
and frozen meals is substantial, with only a limited number of premium-priced brands competing at the
gourmet end of the market. The fact that there is a choice of Chinese, Thai and Japanese meals (as opposed to just local
dishes) was seen as adding to the appeal.
In a single business trip Beverley Wong flew to Seoul, Taipei and Hong Kong and met representatives of a leading
supermarket chain in each of these markets. The Hong Kong-based chain also has supermarkets in Macau. The
meetings were arranged by the export consultancy back in Melbourne, who had used their contacts in these markets to
set up the meetings.
Beverley had taken with her sample packs of all 10 products in the range, and the Australian-made television
commercial. This was to indicate the promotional support she was willing to offer the supermarket chain in each market.
Reactions to the products from the supermarket representatives were generally positive, with a feeling expressed that
there was sufficient scope in the range for the target market consumers to eat food which was either familiar to them or
slightly more exotic. No comments were forthcoming about the single-serve packs.
As part of her presentation Beverley provided a breakdown of the typical target market consumer in the Australian
and New Zealand markets, and then showed the representatives the television commercial, which had helped build sales
through the two supermarket chains in Australasia. Her intention was to offer the supermarkets this communications
support as part of the deal. The television ad could inform the target market about the brand, encourage trial and help
establish a position and a distinct brand image. It had worked well in Australia and New Zealand in accomplishing these
communication tasks.
However, in the meetings in Seoul, Taipei and Hong Kong reactions to the television commercial were generally
negative. The representatives from the South Korean supermarket chain were the most negative telling Beverley that
the television ad would simply not work in the South Korean market and that it might in fact damage the brand. The
Hong Kong supermarket chain representatives pointed out that people in Hong Kong and Macau do not live in
the way the ad depicts. The Taiwanese supermarket chain representatives pointed out that Taiwan is a conservative
The outcome of the meetings in all three markets was an interest in stocking Gourmet Express and a willingness to
have further discussions with Beverley and the export consultancy with a view to establishing a formal supply relationship.
In other words, all three chains were interested in stocking Gourmet Express.
The one caveat was a desire for a supporting communications campaign targeting local consumers. There was no
interest in using the campaign that had been successful in helping drive supermarket sales in Australia and New
Zealand. Instead a request was made for a new television commercial to be shot. The South Koreans requested that the
ad be specific to the South Korean market, while the Taiwanese and Hong Kong representatives suggested that an ad
that could be used in all three markets to promote Gourmet Express would be sufficient.
All of this left Beverley Wong in a quandary. The budget did not really exist for producing an entirely new campaign
(or campaigns). The communication resources that did exist were for purchasing television airtime in all four markets.
Midland Typesetters
PART A Environmental Analysis of International Markets
Shooting new ads would reduce the amount of airtime that could be purchased. She felt that she would need to work
harder in convincing the potential new distributors to accept the current television commercial. After all, it was a proven
product, just like the Gourmet Express range itself.
1. Why are the Gourmet Express portfolio of Chinese, Thai and Japanese rice-based dishes apparently selling well in
Australia and New Zealand? In addressing this question consider how food tastes have changed in recent years.
2. Food traditionally has been considered an expression of local culture and a way of defining local culture. In what
ways is culture from other countries or global culture impacting on this?
3. The same television commercial promoting Gourmet Express was used in Australia and New Zealand. There were
no objections from the New Zealand supermarket chain. What does this say about culture in both markets?
4. Why do the representatives of the South Korean, Taiwanese and Hong Kong supermarket chains seem opposed to
the current television commercial being used as support for them if they decide to stock Gourmet Express?
5. Undertake some secondary research on cultures in these North-East Asian markets and identify reasons why the
current Gourmet Express television commercial may not work, and why it may even damage the brand.
Midland Typesetters

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