Aunt Bessie’s – Social Media

Aunt Bessie’s is a traditional semi-prepared food manufacturer that has achieved great long-term, organic growth.  This has been with a traditional brand image.   The Yorkshire-based business was originally founded in 1974 specialising in producing the local favourite: Yorkshire Puddings.  Since then – not only has production of puddings risen above 20 million a week – the company has also managed to expand its product range.  This has been done by line-filling; Aunt Bessie’s is now a leading supplier of a variety of traditional home-cooked meals.  Inevitably, their market has become fully saturated.  Hence, their latest marketing strategy is to penetrate the market through social media in an attempt to squeeze-out all the sales they can.

But is this just another company aimlessly trying to use social media because ‘everyone else is’?  Or is this a credible strategy?

Although the details are very vague at the moment, Aunt Bessie’s Marketing Manager Lorraine Crow wishes to “maximise awareness of our products and connect with our fans with an engaging social media presence”.  They hope to do this through the most predictable means: create a Facebook page, a Twitter feed and run online promotions.  The theory behind it is that consumers have a strong emotional attachment with the brand, and social media provides a more channels for them to engage with their favourite brands.

I see two clear problems with their approach:

1) It’s all been done before – just about every brand has an online presence in a Twitter/Facebook medium.  Albeit they are still formulating their strategy, Aunt Bessie’s has yet to reveal anything revolutionary or innovative.  Why should I want to communicate with this brand, as opposed to any other brand?

2) It does not reflect their positioning – check out the advert below.  It is clear that the core benefits sold to the customer are traditional food, but quick to cook.  Social media is certainly not traditional; moreover, if their customers are looking for a product that saves them time, are they going to want to waste the time they have saved buying Aunt Bessie’s products mindlessly scrolling through the brand’s tweets?

Having said that, however, their advert does have some humour to it.  This suggests that the brand does have potential to keep its core values and add some more emotional values.  Marmite is the best example of this.  They have kept the core product unchanged – high quality, consistent and traditional – while creating a youthful and exciting brand image.  There is no reason why Aunt Bessie’s cannot replicate what Marmite has achieved.

Overall, I am undecided on whether this is a good or bad move.  Although it seems to have a similar objective to Marmite – revive a traditional product – I do not thing social media is the best means to do this through.  Instead the company should look into other ways they can re-introduce the brand through altering their marketing mix.  Social media simply does not work for every type of brand or product.

Let me know if you would bother to interact with Aunt Bessie’s through social media by leaving a comment below.

© Joshua Blatchford, author of Manifested Marketing, 06/07/2011.

Leave a comment


  1. Hey Josh.
    I would like to comment on your concerns.
    1) Yes, it has been done before and it will be done in the future, and simply NOT being there will put the company in a disadvantage, compared to other companies, who are embracing internet. So this is the only thing they can actually do – go for it.
    Secondly, you are right they should be trying to do something revolutionary, and I am sure they will be, because their positioning is pretty clear and they can take different angles to that. It is very easy to do something revolutionary (or at least something that would highly appeal to your customers) with a good team and great strategy. There is much more than just tweeting something on their feed, so let’s just wait and see what they will come up with.

    2)Twitter reflects their positioning just fine. 140 characters, you get the tweet on your way home, or in the supermarket – say a lovely old fashioned tip about how to make a great meal in less than 30 mins, etc. It adds value, it reflects their ideology and positioning. It feels like you have not seen a good social media marketing strategy, if this worries you. There are so many ways you can be acting on the internet as a brand that I do not think there should be a slightest worries that this could be a bad move. I am sure they have invested in good specialist who will take brand essence and convey it through online promotions and content management. Therefore, they will come up with something worthwhile and people will interact with them. If else, well – then they would have done the silliest mistake in today’s world – not have followed simple social media marketing rules and ruined their reputation.

    Besides, social media could be just a supporting media for their online promotions on their web, so this should then not be taken as social media marketing strategy, but simply internet marketing strategy, which changes everything.

    Social media marketing – if done right and uniquely and with a creative, value adding touch will always be a right move to every type of brand and product. It just takes time, human resources and money.

    Good luck!


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