Strategic Movements February 2022
The Substitution Resumes
Inflation has hit the grocery aisles and people are changing behavior. Broadly, the price of groceries increased 6.5% in 2021. In response, people are switching to lower-cost store brands. Store-branded products constituted 21% of retail grocery sales, increasing their market share 4.4 points in the last quarter of 2021. But not all customers are substituting cheaper products for higher-priced branded products. If you are in CPG and facing shortages, prioritize the production of your brands over the private label and pump up the advertising. Branded CPG will lose some market share during this inflationary period, but ask yourself if you are in the business to gain market share or make profits? Market share is much easier to get than profit share, but no business survives on market share alone.
Peloton Tries a Hidden Price Increase
Demand for Peloton (PTON) has been uncertain since the start of its Pandemic-induced boom. As a first response to demand uncertainty, Peloton lowered its price in April 2021 by 20% to $1,495 for its less expensive bike and by from $2,496 to $1,895 for its more expensive Bike+ machine. Presumably, this was aimed at regaining its market momentum. It didn’t work. Now, in January 2022, it announced it would charge customers $250 for delivery and setup on some of its bikes. In effect, reversing its pricing prior decision by inserting a less obvious fee which increases the overall price to purchase. Presumably, Peloton realized the lower price was unsustainable.
Nick Woodman learned and recovered from a similar 2016 mistake at GoPro. John Foley, CEO of Peloton, appears to have learned as well. We are all fallible creatures, and we are always learning.
PTON dropped from $31.8 to $24.2 on the day following its announcement. Revenue for the 12 months ending September 30, 2021, was $4 billion, up 73% from the year prior. Some might state this justifies its high growth P/E ratio of 170. Others might question if Peloton is a flash-fad.
Value Menus Shrink
How does a fast-food establishment get customers to buy a higher-priced mix? One method is to reduce the number of lower-priced offerings. Burger King, Denny’s, Domino’s Pizza, and others are reducing the number of “value meal” items on their menu and/or reducing the marketing communication emphasis on their “value meal” menu. Most fast-food franchises have learned that a small price increase spread across the menu is easier to capture than a single large price increase on a single item. Now they are learning that mix improvements too can improve profitability. Keep it up.