The Undisputed Champion of the Forest. And Jerky. - Signal Theory

The following post is written by Signal Theory FoodThink team member Brock Campbell.

In every category, there are leaders, and there are challengers. In most categories, leaders act like leaders, and challengers do their best to keep up. Does the challenger ever overtake the leader? Rarely.

Where did Avis’ campaign “When you’re only No.2, you try harder.” get them? No.3.

But then there’s the beef jerky category. In 2005, the meat snacks category market share looked like this:

Other 32%
Oh Boy! Oberto 22%
Slim Jim 17%
Jack Link’s 15%
Bridgford 7%
Private label 7%

Now consider market share in 2014.

Jack Link’s 49%
Slim Jim 21%
Other 17%
Oh Boy! Oberto 3%
Matador 3%

How did Jack Link’s do it? It’s really pretty simple. But it took focus and dedication to one thing: differentiation. Here are just a few things that make Jack Link’s different.

Product Innovation

It all begins with the product. Who wants to snap into a processed Slim Jim when they can have a slightly lesser-processed Jack Link’s beefsteak? And why stop at beef? Jack Link’s has several offerings in chicken, pork and turkey.

Share of Voice

People sometimes ask, “Why advertise?” Well, consider Jack Link’s the only case study you’ll ever need to answer this question. Jack Link’s would not be where it is without a healthy advertising budget. The company did not wait until it became the market leader to spend big time. According to Kantar Media, Jack Link’s has been outspending the competition for years.

And of course, once the leader gets to the top, it can’t stop spending. If you think Jack Link’s has a unit share of 38%+ without a strong share of voice, then think again.JackLinksSasquatch

A Message That Stands Out

A lot of people don’t like Jack Link’s advertising content. In our opinion, that’s a sign of success. The best ideas are often polarizing but effective. So as long as the core target audience is sold, the bushy beast-man lives on.

Capitalizing on the Protein Obsession

We’re a protein-crazed, snack lovin’ culture. So has Jack Link’s struck this chord like a yeti strumming on his front porch? Absolutley. Not only does Jack Link’s fill the need with product, it went as far as to change its master brand logo to include the word “PROTEIN.”JackLinks

The beauty of this from a marketing standpoint is that the Jack Link’s brand is just as aggressive now, as the leader, as it was as a challenger. That approach will help ensure continued market leadership.

So what’s next for Jack Link’s? In our estimation, more market share, and hopefully funding to finally discover all of the world’s mythical creatures. At least that rascal in the Loch.

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