During most of the 20th century, strawberries were strawberries. Sold in similar containers, they had no individual identity.
But then the Selva strawberry arrived. Deep red, with a high yield and a long shelf life, it had little taste and a woody texture. While many growers were perfectly happy to sell the Selva, others worried it would give the strawberry a bad name. After all, if there were no way to distinguish one pint from the next one, consumers wouldn’t even know there was a better berry.
Concerned, Driscoll decided to change strawberry fields forever.
Creating a Brand
Unknown during their first 90 (or so) years in business, in 1991 Driscoll put its name on the label. Predictably, once you have a brand, you need an identity. You need a better berry.
As a result, research and development targeting sweetness, disease resistance, and picking ease all became a part of doing business. Or, as one of their executives said, “You have to find a way to say this strawberry is different from that strawberry, which isn’t necessarily an easy thing to do,..”
Meanwhile on the marketing side, The NY Times tells us that Driscoll’s has a new label with a dot over the Driscoll “i” that is the same color as the berries in the package. Also, their website has been updated and their social media initiative has been energized. Their goal? To say that their berry is unique.
Our Bottom Line: Monopolistic Competition
Traditionally a product of perfect competition, the strawberry had many growers who created identical fruit. As a result, the market determined the price. However, once they established a brand, Driscoll could achieve the product differentiation that moved it to the right on the competitive market structure continuum. Having entered a monopolistically competitive market, Driscoll’s could become a premium brand with some price control.
And no longer would strawberries just be strawberries.