Making freshness a competitive advantage


Most consumers do not want their milk ‘fresh’ from the cow.

Cravendale milk is filtered through ceramic filters to remove more of the bacteria which means that it stays “fresh” for up to 3 weeks unopened and 7 days after opening – longer than other “fresh” milks.

Strong communication had built good awareness of the brand with a strong distinctive personality. Consumers understood that Cravendale was better, but not always why it was better or why they should pay more for it.

To make life more difficult, the retailers were discounting their own label milks, the market was becoming further commoditised and the price premium for Cravendale was becoming untenable for most consumers.

The brand team believed that they needed a more attitudinal (emotional) based positioning for the brand supported by a single minded benefit that communicated to a variety of key audiences to cement their belief in the brand and to attract new users to the brand.

This was when they turned to The Marketing Clinic to find a positioning for Cravendale that was attractive to consumers and justified the premium price.

So how to overcome this downward spiral? We began by looking at the problem from a different perspective.

We identified the taste journeys and, more importantly, the different emotional journeys that are cued by the different taste experiences of Cravendale and of standard milks at different times after opening. By identifying how consumers respond emotionally to the different products we found the key to transforming the fortunes of Cravendale.

Cravendale does taste fresher than an equivalently aged unfiltered milk, but “Freshness” is a relative and rather elastic concept. The consumer rarely consciously notices the difference and, if they do, they nearly always dismiss it as within the normal variation of milk “it gets a little less fresh, but it is still OK”

However, from our findings we could see that what was needed was a subtle change of marketing language; to move away from emphasising the rational benefit – which the consumer finds questionable – to the emotional benefit which they find very believable.

That Cravendale stays fresh for 7 days is a rational benefit and not particularly differentiating from standard milks that are invariably kept for 7 days anyway.

However, “Cravendale tastes fresher for longer” plants the idea into the consumers’ mind which they find to be true every time they drink Cravendale milk. It actually does taste fresher for longer.

This belief in Cravendale is reinforced every time consumers’ taste it and is further supported by the rational argument that the filtering process removes more bacteria, hence the milk will taste fresher for longer…

By moving the focus away from the rational benefit and by understanding consumers’ emotional experience of the product we were able to reverse the problem of commoditisation and reverse the fortunes for Cravendale.

Chris Lukehurst is a Consumer Psychologist and a Director at The Marketing Clinic:

Understanding the connections between the consumer experience and emotional responses.