10/4: Niche Marketing

In the spring of 1996—approximately four years post-purchase of Alima by Gerber—the company launched an innovative beverage line. Unveiled by the Polish head of the marketing division, this new product was everything that its forefathers weren’t. It was bright and colorful and came in a large glass bottle. Its label a shiny black, and instead of flavors, it came in colors. It radiated revolution.

These new juices—called Frugo juices—were the by-product of a rather foreign business strategy: niche marketing. This approach (commonly pursued by post-Fordist capitalist industries, p. 61) aims to develop groups of “specialized desire”—and to create products that match the precise wants of each. Consequently, products produced that do not meet these wants do not sell—thus the slogan “a product for everybody is a product for nobody” (p. 58, 62). At its root, niche marketing serves to “commodify labor and segment labor markets” by generating new social identities and reconstructing old ones (out of usually previously existing markets)(p. 59). In this way, the product is responsible for the crafting of a new social group[s] (and all that it entails).

Moreover, the significance of niche marketing at the Alima-Gerber production plant proved groundbreaking. Dunn writes:

The introduction of niche marketing meant that AG was not only discovering ‘the market,’ it was learning to create and makes use of multiple markets that could be resegmented and redefined in order to boost consumption via the practice of marketing (p. 63).

This passage exacerbates the negative effects of socialism’s inattention to consumption, yet highlights the positive resulting changes made in the manner Polish business pursuits approached markets (p. 63). Specifically, markets and consumers traded in the idea of being “fixed entities”—instead, embracing a more fluid, transformable ideal (I.E. “flexible bodies”, p. 69).

Furthermore, in using illustrations of “flexibility,” Alima-Gerber simultaneously repudiates socialism, making a compelling proclamation in regard to the ‘unwells’ of socialism. Resulting, the Polish people quickly came to integrate symbols of flexibility into their everyday lives.

This entry was posted in Week 7. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to 10/4: Niche Marketing

  1. asg015 says:

    I think a really important part of the creation of the juice in niche marketing was the idea that they not only created the product but they virtually created their audience and target group. They had to sell to a nation that was previously socialist for around over 40 years. In order to distribute and develop a new product to a new target group was very daring. However, because niche marketing went right along side the flexibility aspects of the new economy, challenges that faced the company could now be met. They would be able to fire workers when they did not need as many on the production floor, and they could rehire new ones when it was time to either change the company dynamic, or to bring more in to fill up vacant spots on the production line.