A Case Study by Benjamin Morrill
Professor Don Jolly
International Marketing IBUS13-353
February 14, 2014
Over a month ago now, I arrived in Australia and have since been exposed to numerous brand names and companies that do not exist, or at least very unfamiliar, within the United States. However, in the globalized marketplace we live in today it is rare to see new innovative products that don't already exist everywhere else in the world. The most brilliant and innovative brand I have yet to come across is Australia's BBQnique. As far as products within Barbeque and Grilling industry go, there is nothing else like a BBQnique grill available to consumers. When I first saw the grill being used by a party of about six people at a local bar, I was amazed at how genius and cool it was. It is one of those products that make you say, "Now why didn't I think of that?" The BBQnique grill is a million dollar idea and I believe this "start-up" business could potentially have tremendous success in the future.
Perhaps, I could help bring the marketing skills needed by this family business to make it more than just a million dollar idea, but a reality. BBQnique was founded by Steve Zagar, a former opal miner in the Australian outback, who had a revolutionary new design for the barbeque grill. During his a time in Australian outback, his most enjoyable experiences were at mealtimes when all the miners would sit around a campfire, tell jokes and stories, and cook food on a hot plate set over the fire. Once he returned home he realized traditional Aussie barbecues were just not as fun as the barbeques he used to have out in the outback. That is when he decided to design the BBQnique grill. In the simplest of terms, it is just a circular table with a built in grill right in the center so families and friends can socialize with one another while they cook their food. The cook will not be left and it ensures that barbequing will not be a chore, but rather hours of entertainment. However, some argue BBQnique has too much of a niche market and cannot compete with the cheaper prices set by competitors. I argue there are many reasons to support BBQnique could still have major success in this industry despite the issues they currently face.
Founded in 2008, BBqnique is an Australian family owned company who take pride in every product they make. Despite registered designs in the US and Europe, BBQnique continues to market and sell primarily within the borders of Australia. The Barbeque and Grilling industry is very competitive and is denominated by large corporations such as Weber-Stephen Products, AB Electrolux, and Middlebury. According to IBISWorld, the grilling industry was hampered in the five years before 2013 mainly due to the recession. The recession significantly slowed demand for high-end grills, such as BBQnique, in favor for cheaper grills. However, from now until 2018 IBISWorld estimates the barbecue and grilling industry revenues will steadily increase. Considerable industry growth is expected as consumer incomes rise and private spending on home improvements also increase. According to Barbeques Galore, an Australian chain of retail stores specializing in barbecue grills and accessories, this past summer sales of barbeques had risen 20 percent from the previous summer. However, sales of international companies like United States manufactured Weber-Stephen Products are starting to dominate the Australian grill market. The Weber-Stephen Company now sells their grills in 30 different countries, and is having major success in many of these countries. These "big" businesses make it tough on small businesses like BBQnique to not only survive, but have success. According to theaustralian.com.au, a recent article published on January 14th of 2014 stated that sales of US-manufactured Weber barbeques in Australia increased an estimated 60 percent this past summer. Assuming BBQnique has the resources and capabilities to market their product internationally, I think it would in their best interest to start distributing their products in international markets. With barbequing rapidly becoming a globalized market, if BBQnique does not expand into larger markets they will not survive. BBQnique sold less than seventy units in 2012; however, they have been increasing yearly sales each year since.
There are many market issues that are impacting the sales of BBQnique grills. A current trend in the Australian barbeque market is the revival of charcoal cooking being preferred by the consumers over gas and electric cooking methods. More and more people are buying grills that use traditional charcoal because they cook meat with a smoky flavor and a caramelized exterior that tastes superior to meats being cooked over gas or electric grills. Barbecue Galore's marketing manager David Campbell said quote, "We're seeing more customers who are willing to experiment. They're starting to realise the flavours and results are better with charcoal than gas." This market change is undoubtedly going hurt the BBQnique Company's sales. BBQnique designed their grills using gas tanks with convenience and simplicity in mind. Using the latest technology in the grilling industry, most BBQnique grills feature just one control valve, one ignitor, and one burner. Unfortunately, BBQnique may quickly learn that having the most advanced technology doesn't always pay off. In the Australian barbecue and grilling market, sometimes nothing beats the traditional ways of doing things as consumers are no longer quickly purchasing gas grills without at least considering the benefits of charcoal. However, there are many positive market characteristics within Australia that are having a direct impact on the increasing success of BBQnique. Most obviously, Australia's moderate climate allows BBQnique to sell their grills year round because there is always a demand. Also, there is a long tradition of barbecuing in Australia and is a significant part of one's lifestyle to many Australians. For these reasons, consumers will be more likely to purchase high-end relatively expensive BBQnique grills in the Australian market than many other international markets.
There are international markets that I believe BBQnique should focus on if they decide to expand globally. As an American consumer, I believe that BBQnique would increase revenues significantly by selling their unique grills in the United States for a variety of reasons. Barbecuing is a major aspect of the American lifestyle and the North American barbecuing industry continues to grow every year. According to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, a study done in 2013 showed eighty-six percent of American households own some sort of grill. Also, gas grills continue to be the most purchased grill among American consumers. A dominating sixty-seven percent of American households that own a grill own a gas grill. That is a rise of four percent from 2012 when sixty-three percent of households that owned a grill was gas. This trend is great news for a company like BBQnique who only sells gas grills at the moment. Another current consumer trend in the American market is the demand for new accessories and innovative ways to make the cooking experience easy and fun. In my own personal opinion, BBQnique is the most innovative and fun idea the industry has seen in years. There is nothing like the BBQnique grill in the relatively large American marketplace and I strongly believe that consumers in America will go out of their way to purchase a one. However, there are some aspects of the American market that would not be so appealing to the BBQnique Company. Most significantly, only sixty-two percent of Americans who own grill use it year round. Much of the United States does not have a climate suitable for year round barbecuing and grilling. However, many Southern states do have a climate suitable for year round sales, so the Southern region of the United States should be focused on initially.
Ultimately, America is just one of many potential international markets BBQnique should considering entering. I believe the most vital skill I can bring to this family business is my market research abilities. My ultimate goal in life is to land a market researching career somewhere because that is what I find most interesting and enjoyable. Through studying marketing research and statistical analysis, I would like to think my math and analytical skills are elite. The BBQnique company has a great product and is already successful within the Australian market in its short life. I think through proper research and methodological decision making, BBQnique can reach even more demanding markets and eventually become one of the most successful brands in the barbecue and grilling industry. Within the next year, my goal would be determine customer satisfaction with the brand, and also fully enter an international market whether it is the United States or somewhere else. Within the next three years, my goal would be to increase customer satisfaction by at least ten percent, increase sales by thirty percent, and increase brand awareness by fifty percent. Within the next five years, my goal would be to have BBQnique being sold in every major retailer within our market and reach five percent of the market share of the barbecue industry. Within the next fifteen years, my goal would be to have BBQnique be one of the most profitable and successful companies in the barbecue industry.
In order to make my dream of working for this company and becoming a millionaire a reality, certain professional development steps need to be taken. It is important that I continue to soak in knowledge about successful marketing through obtaining my degree with high distinction. I should explore options and opportunities that will increase my skills and experience, further my education and training, expand my business network and relationships, increase communication and public speaking skills, and ultimately transform myself into a marketing research superstar. I should make sure I stay up to date on market trends and be sure to stay informed on the BBQnique business. Upon graduation, I plan on contacting Steve Zagar, the founder and owner of BBQnique, and provide my services to the company. Hopefully, the rest will be history.