Updated: Oct 17
When the anti-fur movement took hold and the market for mink pelts plummeted, B2B mink chow company Aims needed to pivot strategies or go out of business. Today, they are a multi-national dog food brand within the portfolio of CPG powerhouse Unilever. They did this by taking a step back and asking themselves the same three questions at every stage of their company's development:
Who likes me most best
Who doesn't mind what I'm bad at?
Who's being underserved by the competition?
The first answer for Aims was show dogs. Aim's helped the minks grow fast, gave them a shiny and lustrous coat, and for some reason, made the minks more happy and compliant. All of these things are appealing to show dog owners. Aim's lack of brand recognition was actually a plus as well, because you always want a secret weapon that your competition doesn't have. The low production volume and high cost didn't bother show dog owners, who quickly realized that no other dog food on the market compared.
With the ultimate influencers as your first clients, Aim's grew a strong brand, although production volume was still low and prices where still high, making dog breeders the perfect, next market. Buy yourself a fancy pure bred dog and the breeder sends you home with the brand of food they've been using. In response, brand awareness goes up, volume goes up and prices can come down.
The category marketer at Petco is monitoring the industry to understand what high end and speciality items get people to split their trip from a regular grocery run. Soon, speciality pet stores began approaching Aim's, offering them good margins and prime end cap placement in store. Brand recognition continues to rise and prices continue to fall as volume skyrockets.
At the same time, the category marketer at the grocery chain is doing market research to understand what items are getting people to visit pet stores, which means offering Aim's even higher volume at similar margins, with premium placement. Pretty soon, you're a prime acquisition candidate for a major CPG brand and you're purchased by Unilever.