Avoiding commoditization in FMCG: lessons from a frozen turkey (company)

Sep 16, 2020

We explore how lessons from a turkey company and chatbots can help companies stand out.



The FMCG market is famous for its intense competition. It is a place where volumes are high, consumer involvement in the purchase is low and brands have to work hard to stand out. The first two letters of the acronym say it all, Fast Moving.

Because FMCG purchases are frequent, low involvement actions that often take place at a supermarket shelf, the risk of commoditization is extremely high. After all, very few of us write down the brand name of the product next to the items on our shopping list.

The commoditization problem

To fight commoditization, brands have to find ways to engage the customer before they get to the dreaded supermarket shelf, and add enough value to gain a durable position in the customer’s top of mind. It is not an easy feat, but we can learn a lot by looking at a very special company called Butterball.

Butterball is an American company that sells turkeys. In the weeks before thanksgiving, demand for turkeys skyrockets, and competition in supermarkets intensifies. News outlets and the internet are filled with recipes and tips on how to prepare the perfect turkey for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Over at Butterball, the Turkey-Talk hotline gets ready for its peak season.

Yes, you read that right, the company has a Turkey-Talk hotline that helps people cook the perfect Thanksgiving turkey. It is staffed by over 50 people that help more than 100.000 people each year. It started as a marketing gimmick in the 80s and has been going ever since, giving the company a distinct brand-recognition and being regularly featured in news outlets like the New York Times.

The importance of personalized content

The key to its success is its ability to add value by providing personalized attention. When calling the hotline you don’t have to scroll through pages and pages of text to find the right answers, you just state your problem and receive a personalized answer. It is a world away from the seas of the content found on the internet or on social media.

People love things like the Turkey-Talk hotline because they are efficient and solve their problems quickly. This fast and efficient interaction is key to the conversational commerce revolution that messaging apps have brought about. The challenge is that initiatives like these often require large teams of people that are trained in a very specific field, and employing them can be expensive. Or at least it used to be.

Today modern technology can provide scalable, personalized, human-like support through chatbots and artificial intelligence. A well-designed system can easily take over most of the questions that a hotline of this kind receives and only hand over to human agents the few cases that deviate from the norm.

Companies that can successfully identify opportunities to create this kind of value-adding system have a lot to gain in terms of brand recognition and sales. To help you find these opportunities and design a good system to exploit them we have put together a great team of experts that will be happy to take a look at your company’s unique situation. Reach out to them using the link below.