The Ketchup King Seeks To Conquer Mexico

February 23rd, 2010 by Rob Berman Leave a reply »

I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal that described Heinz, the “King of Ketchup” making a move into Mexico.

Ketchup Versus Salsa

Salsa bypassed ketchup in the US as the most popular tomato-based condiment in 1992 according to the New York Times and National Public Radio.

Salsa actively moved into the home of Heinz and “conquered” American’s taste buds.  Since salsa overtook ketchup, Heinz had not retaliated in Mexico until 2008 and 2009.  A market that is not growing at home should be expanded overseas by an international firm.  Heinz focused on emerging markets in other parts of the world like China, Russia, and Indonesia while ignoring an obvious, large country south of its US headquarters.

What is most interesting is that Mexicans use ketchup on foods like chicken, pasta, eggs, and pizza.  These are not typical practices in the US but could increase sales volume.

So what were the Product Managers and Category Managers thinking?

H1N1 As A Priority Changer

Product Managers need to be alert to new opportunities.  However, attempting to focus on too many priorities diminishes the potential for success with all of them.  That said, the timing of attacking a priority should be one of the drivers for selecting priorities.  For example, the worldwide H1N1 flu scare shifted the priorities for many governments.  An immediate effect of that shift in focus was the need to create a new vaccine, mass produce it and deliver it.

If the pharmaceutical companies were not able to rapidly shift priorities, then they would have missed out on billions in sales.  More importantly, those most at risk for H1N1 would have been very exposed.

The Takeaway

Strategic planning is important in establishing the roadmap of priorities for successful companies.  However, sufficient flexibility must exist in the plan to allow for new fast moving opportunities.

Over To You.  What Do You think? Please respond in Comments below.

  1. How do you set strategic priorities?
  2. Do you have sufficient flexibility in your plans to add in new opportunities?
  3. Would you have entered Mexico sooner to capture share of the ketchup market?
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1 comment

  1. Ketchup says:

    It’s interesting but could see Heinz and other companies assuming they wouldn’t do well in a country already dominated by a condiment that’s sort of similar. Although Ketchup and Salsa are different enough I think I would have tried to enter the market sooner.

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