Playing off the convenience trend that has sales of ready-made marinades rising in double digits, Nabisco and Clorox Co. in February will introduce new marinade lines that extend their existing sauce equities.
Nabisco will spend $25 million to launch A.1. Steak Marinades, while Clorox will pony up $11 million to introduce K.C. Masterpiece Marinades.
The marinade category -- registering only $43 million in 1996 -- grew 13.7% to $163 million for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 7, according to Information Resources Inc.
Unilever's Lipton Foods unit pioneered the category with Lawry's Marinades and has seen the brand double in sales since 1996; that growth continued this year when the brand rose 33.6% to $44.5 million.
Nabisco is looking to grow the segment even further by extending beyond marinades for white meat and fish, where 85% of the category is focused, by basically "inventing" the red-meat marinating segment.
"In the past, we've recommended A.1. as part of a recipe for marinades, but now, because consumers are looking to take steps out of the process, we're giving them the final product," said John Cowles, VP-managing director of condiments for Nabisco's Planters Specialty Products Co. unit.
Mr. Cowles said 52% of consumers marinate steak vs. 25% for chicken and fish, and Nabisco wants to "leverage the steak heritage of A.1. and own that" marinating occasion.
A.1. Steak Marinades, in Classic Steakhouse, Hickory and Italian Herb varieties, will be supported by TV and print advertising from FCB Worldwide, New York.
There also will be sampling at retail locations and special events via A.1.'s existing "Rolling Steakhouse Tour," whose sites will be expanded by 33% next year.
A.1. sales totaled $128.4 million for the year ended Nov. 7, per IRI. And the new marinades aren't expected to cannibalize A.1., Mr. Cowles said, but rather are expected to be "the most incremental product launch within Nabisco Foods in a long time."
At Clorox, the marinade extension to K.C. Masterpiece barbecue sauce will come in garlic herb, honey teriyaki and sesame, and original BBQ. They will ship Feb. 7 and be supported in the spring with $11 million in media and trade spending.
A TV campaign will break May 1 touting the ease of the 30-minute marinades, with the tagline "Great flavor without the wait." DDB Worldwide, San Francisco, assumes the account in January.
Coupons in newspaper inserts also will support the new line.
`DIFFERENCE IS DELICIOUS'
To defend its leadership status against newcomers, Lipton will heavily support Lawry's this spring, reinforcing its marinade flavors. Advertising from Dailey & Associates, West Hollywood, Calif., has in the past featured the tag "The difference is delicious."
Lipton spent $11.5 million in media against Lawry's in 1998 and $11.3 million in the first half of this year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Other players in the marinade category all have annual sales of less than $10 million. Earlier this year, ikkoman International, whose sales grew 6% to $7.8 million for the 52 weeks ended Nov. 7, started promoting its Kikkoman Original Teriyaki sauce as a one-step marinade.