One of the devices multinational corporations use to win and maintain increased market share is to introduce new lines of product. These new lines may not be as successful as the pre-existing flagship product; indeed, they may only break even, or operate at a loss. But they keep competitors off the shelves, ensuring that the company continues to rack up sales in that sort of product. The best examples of such product diversification can be seen with Coca-Cola.
Retailers who stock Coke must also stock Vanilla Coke and Cherry Coke and Diet Coke and Diet Coke with Vanilla and Diet Coke with Lime. Depending on the sort of retail premises, this may mean not stocking any product manufactured by rival cola company Pepsi. But in addition to Coke, the retailer may also have to take Fanta, also manufactured by Coca-Cola Amatil. Once upon a time, Fanta was an orange fizzy drink. Now it means an entire rainbow of different coloured fizzy drinks. Coca-Cola also offer Sprite, a lemonade that competes with other lemonades. Mount Franklin bottled water is also a Coca-Cola product. If all of these various soft drinks are stocked, the consumer seems to have a lot of choice, while only one company has all of the profits.
One of the most alternative of cola alternatives is no longer an alternative at all. The bitter Italian cola known as ‘Chinotto’ may offer a world of difference to Coca-Cola, but have a close look at the label of the next bottle you buy, if indeed you buy Chinotto. If it is manufactured by Bisleri, it will bear the trademark lion-in-a-circle, with a ribbon draped across it claiming it to be ‘tradizionale’. This not-so-dynamic ribbon device also graces the bottom of the label, circumnavigating the bottle with the words “Tradizionale Chinotto Tradizionale Chinotto…” repeated ad infinitem.
Traditionally, Chinotto was a bitter drink manufactured from the bitter chinotto orange, also known as the Seville orange, and sung about by Elvis Costello in the song ‘Tart’, from the album When I Was Cruel:
Hear silver trumpets will trill in Arabic streets of Seville
Oranges roll in the gutter
And you pick them up
And peel back the skin
To the red fruit within
But the flavour is…
And the flavour is…
Reading the fine print of the label on the bottle of Chinotto reveals no evidence of the chinotto orange. Instead, it says
SOFT DRINK CONTAINS: CARBONATED WATER,
SUGAR, FLAVOUR, COLOUR (150a),
FOOD ACID (330), PRESERVATIVE (211).
MADE IN AUSTRALIA FROM IMPORTED AND
COCA-COLA AMATIL (AUST.) PTY LTD
So there you have it: maintain market leadership by introducing a multitude of variations.
(Interestingly, ‘Bisleri’ began as an Italian company founded by Felice Bisleri in 1967. It also marketed fresh drinking water in India. Bisleri Mineral Water continues to exist in India but its website gives no indication of it being part of the international Coca-Cola Amatil empire. That the sale and distribution of the product has been halted due to health issues suggests that there is no relationship.)
So back to Spam, currently undergoing a $4.9 million campaign to rejuvinate it and give it more appeal. If the good people at Spam Pty Ltd really want to make their product central to the eating habits of the greater population, they really should take Coca-Cola’s example and start devising a wider range of menu items – taking up entire aisles in supermarkets.
Apparently, the name ‘Spam’ is derived from its content of ‘spiced pork and ham’. If they can put spiced pork and ham in a can and call it ‘Spam’, why stop there? Why not spiced beef called ‘Speef’?
Okay, lingering vestiges of negative press from the infamous mad cow disease epidemic may result in limited appeal, but what about a halal or kosher version of the product, using lamb?
Admittedly, there will be a slight problem since confusion will arise between the spiced pork and ham product, Spam, and the spiced lamb product, Spamb. However, in those cultures that make no bones about consuming goat, you have the halal/kosher Spoat, and in the more ‘genteel’ cultures, Sputton. (As we all known, the spiced lamb would always only be Sputton done up as Spamb anyway.)
But why stop there? Why not, for the truly posh, spiced game meats, liked Spenison? A fowl range would also be a winner. Spicken for the everyday consumer, with Spail, Spuck and Spurkey for the well-to-do and, on special occasions, the common-as-muck as well. The truly posh can of course indulge in Spescargot and Spaté.
There is no reason not to venture into the water also. Spish products could be marketed for consumption on rice as Spushi or Spashimi (I can never remember which is which), and for the truly lucrative Japanese market, Spale products, at least until whaling is well and truly outlawed. No, I mean really well and truly outlawed. No, I mean really, really, really cross-your heart, hope to die, we may even consider signing the Kyoto Protocol, outlawed. No, really.
In Africa, where the impending world food shortage has already begun to have an effect and poachers are killing wildlife and selling it as ‘bush meat’, a little bit of monkey, say, could be made to go a long way with the right combination of whatever it is they put in Spam. Make way for Sponkey, not to mention Spinoceros and Spelephant.
I’m particularly looking forward to investing in shares of the company’s Spaussie range of Spuisine: kangaroo and rabbit culls will finally provide a lucrative industry – aside from pet food (sorry, that’s an unfortunate mental image to conjure when discussing tinned cold meats) – when Spangaroo and Spabbit hits the market. Again, ‘boutique’ lines could be introduced to include Sprocadile and Sparramundi, not to mention Sprawn, Spobster, baby Spoctopus and Spaviar. If other protected species get out of hand, there’s always the likelihood of Spoala, Spombat and Spallaby. But we’d have a hard time distinguishing Splatypus from generic roadkill-in-a-can, Splatterpus.
With such a range of spiced meats available, there is no need to ever eat dodgy, fast-food alternatives whose meat products contain god-only-knows-what – like hot dogs and hamburgers – ever again. Although, what would be more likely (and could drive the value of shares through the roof) would be a hostile take-over, by Spam, of a pre-existing fast food chain. Consider: SpacDonalds could introduce a range of Spamburgers as well as Spicken McNuggets. Or maybe Spizza Hut would offer the ultimate Speat-lover’s Spizza with Spepperoni and Spalami along with the usual Spince sauce and Spam.
For the stay-at-home types and the health conscious, it will only be a matter of time before the offal of the vegetable kingdom – peelings, the woody bits where the edible bit was once connected to the plant, and any other bits that are traditionally fed to rabbits, put in the compost heap or thrown away – can be boiled down and mixed with gelatine to make some sort of tinned Spegetable equivalent.
“Spammity spam, lov-er-ly spam,” indeed!