DairyBelle - relaunched at 50

DairyBelle - the brand - has been very quiet in recent years, but following a recent relaunch, it is likely to become a force with which other big dairy companies in SA will have to reckon. In particular, the new DairyBelle marketing team hope that it will bring   "a special 'brightness' to SA dairy consumers".
DairyBelle, which had been owned by Tiger Brands (followed by a brief period of ownership by the company's management), was taken over by Dairy World of Pretoria, owned by the Meyerowitz family, and other shareholders, in 2008.
Following the takeover of DairyBelle, the brand is now receiving something it has not for many years - tender loving care.
In 2009, research was conducted to better understand the brand and where it was in the minds of consumers - and in the market place versus competitors.
In 2010, implementation of the results of this research began with an entire relaunch of the DairyBelle brand, with a new, refreshed positioning which seeks to retain the brand's positive attributes but make it more modern, bright and relevant.
The scope of the relaunch in 2010-2011 has been - well, everything:
- Refreshed positioning for the brand and logo.
- Refreshed packaging designs and packaging formats.
- New flavour introductions across various ranges.
- A new communication platform and support strategy.
The refreshed positioning of the brand and company is being backed by the reintroduction of DairyBelle advertising on TV and radio, and plans for ongoing support and innovation, says Kim Snyman, the company's senior marketing manager.
DairyBelle's small new marketing department, which has already achieved remarkably, is likely to grow in future.creative_fl
Says Snyman: "DairyBelle is a brand with strong brand equity. It is seen as trustworthy and has a strong heritage."
"The aim of our new brand positioning is to retain the positive attributes of trustworthiness, heritage, family values, nostalgia etc, but take the brand into a more modern and relevant space in the hearts and minds of today's consumers."
DairyBelle's research indicates that its brand is still the second most recognised dairy brand in SA. That may be a reflection simply of the fact that the brand has been around for a long time.
DairyBelle's heritage and story stretches back more than 50 years - to the beginning of the 20th century when the Graaf Brothers founded a dairy company, called SA Cold Storage.
In 1902, the company was bought by two well-known partners - Cecil John Rhodes and Leander Starr Jameson - and renamed (unsurprisingly for them) Imperial Cold Storage (ICS). The company manufactured ice cream, chocolate, butter and cheese.
The acquisition must have been one of Rhodes' last commercial actions - he died later in 1902.
By the late 1950s the company was using the name DairyBelle, although the DairyBelle trademark was only registered in 1960.
1960 also marked the introduction of "Belle" - the trademark orange cow - and the ding-dong radio jingle. Perpetuating this heritage, in the latest marketing revamp, the cow and its blossom have been retained (but reinvigorated and modernised), as has the jingle.
DairyBelle's product portfolio today spans a wide range of dairy and juice products, including fresh milk, fresh fruit juice, UHT milk, yoghurt and cultured products, butter, soft cheeses, hard cheeses, and processed cheeses.
It is said that there is no such thing as a tired brand - only tired brand managers. Snyman, appointed in April 2010, is anything but tired.
She and the two Meyerowitz brothers, who run the company (Charles and Leonard), have plotted the revival of the brand.
The results of the extensive research they commissioned in 2009 allowed them to understand the market, the trends and the players.
Says Snyman: "The end-objective was to arrive at a refreshed and revitalised DairyBelle brand positioning - with the aim of relaunching DairyBelle into a more contemporary and relevant position in the market and in consumers' minds ... And in doing so, to grow the categories we play in."
An essential task for the new marketing team was to clarify who the main target market was. "We offer value-for-money and we position ourselves as an affordable brand for all South Africans. However we are continually looking at more affordable offerings to meet the needs of the lower income bracket of our population.
"Affordability will always be a key driver in the SA market. We want to sell products that deliver an affordable 'out of pocket' solution, while still delivering on the quality that consumers demand. Manufac- turers who place no focus on the lower end of the market will miss a huge growth opportunity.
"At the same time, there is a place for innovation at the top end of the market - innovative products that deliver new moments of consumption or frequency of consumption will also build brand image, keeping the brand fresh, modern and relevant - and will drive category value growth."
How did the new team go about developing the new positioning?
The long-term objective, says Snyman, was: "From DairyBelle's proud beginnings ... to making sure that today's generation, and those that follow, grow up with DairyBelle in their homes."
"To do that, DairyBelle needs to be present in SA consumers' lives, not only in the supermarket with great products - but in their hearts and minds with a brand they know and trust.
"On the basis of robust research and relevant insights, the revitalised new strategy was developed. This involved four main strategic areas:
1. Portfolio planning;
2. Brand architecture;
3. Design; and
4. New positioning."
"In the design phase, the challenge was to retain existing equity and then effect meaningful change, add value and refresh our designs. The portfolio was also simplified. The strategy was to leverage the master brand and sub-brands where these had brand equity.  
"The positioning phase was a process of articulating what the brand should stand for in the hearts and minds of all key stakeholders - 'the space we want to own'. The aim was to find a new positioning for DairyBelle - one that the market wants, that our competitors cannot easily deliver, and that DairyBelle can deliver."
Despite the intense relaunch activity, a number of new products have also been launched recently: Fruits of the Forest Mixed Berry and Multipack with Mixed Berry; Choc Chip yoghurt; Real Mango and Real Pomegranate juices; Easy Slices Gouda flavour, Easy-wrapped Sweetmilk flavour, Fixed weight cheese (Cheddar, Gouda, Fiddlers, Colchester, Edam); InShape fat-free yoghurt multipack; Inshape Gouda Cheese; InShape Feta and Rainbow Kids yoghurt, and new Smooth Drinking Yoghurt flavours (Granadilla and Mixed Berry).
Says Snyman: "Our vision is to 'brighten everyday moments with DairyBelle'. We want DairyBelle to be part of our consumers' everyday lives, accessible to all South Africans; simply good quality, good value, wholesome and healthy. In short, we want to bring back the ding-dong days!"
Aiming to become the number one choice in dairy
Leonard Meyerowitz, deputy CEO of DairyBelle, says the new management team and structure is geared for growth, and DairyBelle's future is bright. His vision for DairyBelle products is to become the number one choice in dairy for SA consumers.
Says Leonard: "My background in Dairy World was very non-corporate. We had 200 employees there. We now have over 1,700 in DairyBelle, but we still believe in empowering our people, with decision-making in their hands."
"In this way people have ownership, responsibility and accountability for their roles - which we believe is highly motivating. Of course, this means that you have to have the right people in the right roles.
"Communication is open to all; we have meetings about our strategy, marketing and sales, and everyone is given information and an opportunity to contribute and make a difference.
"On the softer side, an example of driving team spirit is for instance that, on Fridays, employees dress in orange (the corporate colour). This adds fun and emphasizes the new 'bright' vision for DairyBelle."
Dairy World was founded by the brothers' father, Les Meyerowitz, in 1987, but it has been run by them since 2003. In 2008, the brothers "became part of the much larger DairyBelle company".
For Leonard, the move from Dairy World was a huge personal shift and growth process.
In Dairy World, the brothers made decisions on the hoof. If a mistake was made, its effect was small. But now a mistake is national - "we are watched nationally".
"Dairy World was a new brand. It is unique in many aspects of packaging and particularly in that all products are kosher, halaal, and diabetic (no sugar). This comes at a cost - for instance, sugar substitutes are expensive! But we had to be unique.
"DairyBelle is a well-established brand; we have a much stronger base because people know the brand, so we can immediately do brand extensions.
"In DairyBelle, we haven't done radical innovation yet … it's coming!
"The culture of corporatism cannot be changed in the couple of years that we (the Meyerowitzes) have been here. People are still cautious. We encourage responsible mistakes because it shows people are doing new things!"
Leonard and Kim Snyman, DairyBelle's senior marketing manager, are the national drivers behind the ideas and new launches. Many ideas are filtered out, of course.
Leonard visits many international shows. "International trends are important, but not all of them work in SA."
DairyBelle's marketing department is very small compared to its competitors.
"We had to start small and work clever! As we grow, the marketing function will expand and we will divisionalise the categories. But our first objective is to bring the DairyBelle brand back to life. We must gain market share and strategically grow the categories in which we play.
"Most importantly, we must be seen on the shelves more." flowcretesde
Another aspect of corporate culture in Dairy World - respect - is also now an important part of DairyBelle's culture.
This includes respect for farmer-suppliers. DairyBelle cannot ignore market forces and how they determine milk prices, but it is constant in its relationship with farmers, not chopping and changing.
DairyBelle does not forsee any radical rationalisations of its relatively large number of factories (compared to its larger competitors). "But we have to be mindful of the changing patterns of milk production," says Leonard.
The ethic of respect (and egalitarianism) will also be reflected in DairyBelle's new offices, which will be absolutely open plan.
Peering five years ahead, Leonard hopes that the DairyBelle brand will still be "well-loved, but with more excitement associated with it ... and that it will be modern and bright".
"Down to earth - DairyBelle's image - does not mean boring. Dairy World was also down to earth. We believe down to earth means trusted and family-orientated, which is not boring!''
And he hopes, ambitiously, that by then DairyBelle will be the number one choice for all SA consumers of dairy.
"It is a big gap to make up. We want DairyBelle to be known for quality, service, integrity, and being down to earth. Also, never above a phone call from a farmer-supplier or consumer to the top executives. If we achieve this, we will have succeeded."
Advertising campaigns
With the packaging revitalisation finalised, it was time to relaunch the brand with new communication and support. This took place in a TV "burst" across all channels between mid-January and mid-February.
The campaign was aimed at reintroducing DairyBelle to consumers, to re-establish awareness, to increase brand equity - "an emotional/brand building objective", says Snyman.
The relaunch advertisements communicated the key attributes and the authenticity of DairyBelle, to reintroduce and make it more modern and relevant to today's consumers.
"The insight behind the TV campaign was based on the perception that South Africans love food and love sharing food - which crosses all cultures. So a TV concept was developed around the tradition of 'never send a plate back empty'.
"The TV advertisement is emotional - we wanted to bring the warmth, emotion and awareness of the DairyBelle brand back."
Bringing that back will be a long term process.  To support the TV adverts, a series of radio adverts were developed based on the same "sharing" insight. In the radio advertisements, DairyBelle products are introduced as parts of recipes - which, of course, are shared.

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