Understanding the value of Dixie professionally

Georgia-Pacific Professional (GP Pro) was experiencing severe competitive and margin pressures in its Food Services business and was looking for ways to reverse this trend. One option being considered was leveraging the venerable Dixie consumer brand by investing in brand building that would resonate with foodservice operators. GP Pro was confident the Dixie brand would add value. Still, they wanted to better understand the decision-making process to determine if there was a “jump ball,” could they use the Dixie brand to secure the “ball?” FullSurge partnered with GP Pro to answer this question and to further understand existing Dixie brand perceptions and equities.

Recognize the reality, price or innovation, and reposition

Through internal Georgia-Pacific management and sales team one-on-one in-depth interviews, we sought to find out what had caused the decline in the food services business. We also conducted external operator research to understand and learn directly from GP Pro customers the issues they were facing in their businesses. It was during these conversations that we experienced our “ah-ha” moment.

Unfortunately, the “jump ball” question was a false question. We consistently heard that there was no such thing as a “jump ball.” Rarely was there a case when an operator was not already using a specific product. Given this, the operator needed to have had a compelling reason to change suppliers given the hassle factor and the conversion costs of switching. The bottom line, with a few rare exceptions, food services products were perceived to be commodities and needed to be good enough quality for the customer. As with commodity offerings, the key driver was always price and the role of the product brand was very limited in the decision-making process. We had to come to the harsh reality that the role of the Dixie brand in the commercial decision-making process was very different from its role in the consumer’s decision-making process. For GP Pro’s foodservice operators, it came down to either price or product innovation where price was no longer the key purchase criteria.

 Our recommendation included the following:

  • Reposition Dixie in a meaningful, more relevant manner that would better resonate with commercial customers
  • Rather than invest in building the Dixie brand, invest incremental monies to build the GP Pro brand
     —This was what drove the relationship
     —This was where the value could potentially be created
     —This could potentially help to change the category debate, even if somewhat, in GP Pro’s favor
  • Invest in delivering innovation to the marketplace, the true driver of premium pricing
We had to come to the harsh reality that the role of the Dixie brand in the commercial decision-making process was very different from its role in the consumer’s decision-making process.

Diverting funds to implement our recommendations      

Not surprisingly, FullSurge’s findings and recommendations were not happily received within the Dixie brand team. Still, the GP Pro team respected the rigor and depth of our work and accordingly fully embraced our recommendations, including hiring us to develop Dixie’s commercial brand positioning. Further, the team diverted funds earmarked to build the Dixie brand to building the GP Pro brand. They created an innovation team charged with bringing new technologies, materials, and delivery devices to the market. The manifestation of our work and recommendations was clearly visible on the website where they announced the repositioned of the GP Pro brand on innovation. Georgia-Pacific continues to be one of our longest-standing clients and the relationship has grown to include Georgia-Pacific Chemical as well as Georgia-Pacific Gypsum.

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