Advertising Cultures

By Timothy Dewaal Malefyt; Brian Moeran | Go to book overview

7
Fame and the Ordinary: ‘Authentic’
Constructions of Convenience Foods
Marianne Elisabeth Lien

From the perspective of an advertising agency, it may appear that uncertainty is a characteristic trait of the advertising profession (Malefyt, this volume). While advertising agencies compete fiercely for corporate accounts of clients whose loyalty can no longer be taken for granted, their clients may appear to enjoy a more stable situation. Particularly, if clients supply basic products such as food – stable material goods that consumers cannot do without – one might expect their marketing departments to construct their products and their marketing strategies on the basis of some sense of certainty. However, from the perspective of a marketing department, it is not that way at all. They, too, struggle to understand the needs of their consumers, their competitors, and a market that is seen as highly unstable. In addition, they worry whether the money spent on advertising services and market research is really worth it. Because really, how do you know?


The Problem of Affluence

This chapter explores the challenges of modern food manufacturing from the perspective of a product manager in the marketing department of a Norwegian food company. In Norway, as in most of Western Europe and North America, food is abundant, consumers affluent and few go hungry. In such a country, an increase in the overall consumption of food is difficult to achieve. Unless we all become bulimic or obese, 1 it is not very likely that we are all going to eat a lot more. Consequently, the only way for manufacturers to grow is either by conquering market share from competitors, or alternatively by constructing products that will make consumers pay more for the same amount of food; in other words, to construct new products that are value-added in ways that justify a higher price. While the first strategy is a zero-sum game, the second implies that a greater amount of money is spent on food, and represents a more promising strategy, particularly for manufacturers who already dominate the market.

The transfer of labor from the domestic to the industrial sphere represents one of the main reasons for the construction of value-added products in industrialized

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