Understanding the Ambitions of a Global Shift
GSI, one of Europe’s largest charcuterie manufacturers, sought to enter the US market, but as fewer than 10% of Americans even knew what charcuterie was, GSI realized its existing product offering might not be the answer. After completing a national study on charcuterie, Combo strategists developed two distinct paths forward that aligned GSI’s core capabilities and Italian heritage with food and nutrition trends of the American consumer.
Finding That Food Is Still Regional
Since WW2, culinary cultural boundaries have been imploding. Access to global influences, flavor profiles and cross-pollination of national culinary styles have proliferated to the point that every food court in America is as likely to offer sushi and fried rice as a burger and BBQ. There are, however, limits. While beef jerky and cured meats have been available for many years in America, the more premium notion of charcuterie was nascent and more likely to be seen in a restaurant than in a home kitchen. Through a comprehensive national survey, we found that while charcuterie was a nice product©, the attributes around it (flavor, convenience, snacking) were very central to the most macro of food trends occurring in the US.
Innovating From Strengths
The business goals GSI had established for its US entry were clearly not going to align with the American demand for charcuterie. As such, Combo strategists had to develop new product approaches that would leverage GSI’s core competency aligned to the market opportunity. After extensive market assessment and ethnographic research in American kitchens across the country, two clear paths forward emerged. One was focused on the largest-growing area in the food business: snacks. Taking GSI’s premium prosciutto product, and in partnership with its engineering team, Combo strategists developed a new snacking product unlike anything that existed on the market today. The second approach looked to build on two core food trends in America: the desire for convenience without compromising nutrition and flavor and the reemergence of a kitchen technology with the next-gen of slow cookers.
Since achieving fame first in the 1970s, the slow cooker (or Crock-Pot) has become a staple of the American kitchen. Our research showed that an astounding 80% of American kitchens had a slow cooker of one form or another. We also recognized a renewed trend in the slow-food movement in America. Meal preparation, nutrition awareness and cooking as a family event were trends being heavily adopted in favor of the fast-food, convenience-at-all-cost past. With GSI’s strength in pork production and appealing flavor profiles, we worked to develop a range of meal kits tailored to these new trends. After uncovering Italian food as being Americans’ favorite foreign cuisine, we were able to lean heavily into GSI’s origin in crafting a product narrative we knew would hold appeal in America.
With MVP in hand, Combo recognized that the right wholesale partners would be critical in helping GSI launch successfully in the US. Partnering with GSI, Combo developed the marketing materials and executed much of the outreach to partners such as Kroger and Starbucks, where we knew a premium meal kit and prosciutto-based snack would be a good brand fit. From merchandising to sales materials and consulting on brokering relationships, Combo helped accelerate the path for GSI to launch successfully in the US.