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Online Market Research at Bentley College Zeroes in on Consumer Taste Preference Before North America Product Launch

October 3, 1999

 

WALTHAM, MA -- Swedish Glace is the #1 best-selling frozen dessert in Sweden -- #2 in the United Kingdom -- and now this international product is coming to New England. Will Americans switch brands to try this new premium non-dairy dessert? To learn whether U.S. consumers like the product and why, Swedish food giant Carlshamn Mejeri AB, and Sinco, Inc., a Belmont, Massachusetts sales and marketing company, turned to Bentley College where online market research was conducted during the Fall '99 Open House for prospective students and their families.

Using an interactive survey in Bentley's new Marketing Technologies Showcase, results were tabulated instantly, pinpointing key information for the local importer and Carlshamn Mejeri AB, the company that also invented the cholesterol lowering margarine Benecol.

"Sinco and the Swedes came to us with a problem," said Perry Lowe, senior lecturer in Marketing at Bentley College. "They have distribution in 800 supermarkets in New England. They have a great product, a premium, non-dairy frozen dessert available in three flavors. It's a huge international bestseller in Europe and no one knows about it here. Before creating a communications strategy, it was necessary to identify the target consumer. This was accomplished through a segmentation study.

"During Bentley's Fall Open House, we invited the more than 1,500 visitors to our campus to taste Swedish Glace and answer questions in a live computerized survey. Participants tasted the product's three flavors- vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Then, using software by Perseus Development, parents and students completed the questionnaire, including their preference for two possible package designs. Results were tabulated immediately on individual monitors, which is how Bentley integrates information technology into its Marketing curriculum," said Lowe.

Does this lactose-free, cholesterol-free product with no animal fats appeal only to those with dietary or health concerns? Or is it a broad-based product that has potential appeal to a wider audience of premium ice cream lovers? The segmentation study was designed to answer these questions.

"This is powerful research and very valuable for us," said Robert Snyder, president of Sinco, Inc. "It enables us to close in on our marketing and advertising plans in a way we could not have done otherwise. In one day, we obtained market research results that are equal in quality to any resource we could have outsourced this to and the final results were available in under 24 hours as opposed to one month. We intend to take Swedish Glace into distribution throughout the U.S. and Canada, beginning here in New England. We knew that the marketplace differs from that in Sweden and the U.K. but until today we didn't know how to identify and quantify our target audiences. Now we do."

Nearly 500 people completed the 10-minute survey. Four major findings were identified:

  • The healthy dessert segmentation study revealed that although the lowfat/no fat segment is the largest category opportunity, an equally large segment exists for diabetic, lactose intolerant, vegetarian and non-dairy desserts.
  • The Swedish Glace product was extremely well received. 68% said they would purchase the product. 72% preferred the full-colored background for the label (versus a half-blue/half-cream color design). Strawberry was the preferred flavor.
  • Younger, "indulgence," consumers (teens and college students) are not a primary target audience.
  • Adults with healthy lifestyles and eating patterns may provide sufficient volume potential to make Swedish Glace a viable mass market product sold in supermarkets rather than a "niche" product for only health food stores..

BENTLEY UNIVERSITY is one of the nation’s leading business schools, dedicated to preparing a new kind of business leader – one with the deep technical skills, broad global perspective, and high ethical standards required to make a difference in an ever-changing world. Our rich, diverse arts and sciences program, combined with an advanced business curriculum, prepares informed professionals who make an impact in their chosen fields. Located on a classic New England campus minutes from Boston, Bentley is a dynamic community of leaders, scholars and creative thinkers. The Graduate School emphasizes the impact of technology on business practice, in offerings that include MBA and Master of Science programs, PhD programs in accountancy and in business, and customized executive education programs. The university enrolls approximately 4,100 full-time undergraduate, 140 adult part-time undergraduate, 1,430 graduate, and 43 doctoral students. Bentley is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges; AACSB International – The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business; and the European Quality Improvement System, which benchmarks quality in management and business education. For more information, please visit www.bentley.edu

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