By: Alejandro Godoy *
Love the Wild a startup of the Seafood sector was introduced in 2014, in the United States; it had among its investors the activist Leonardo DiCaprio. This editorial takes the form of a case-study exposing the trajectory of this brand while making an analysis of its business strategies from the point of view of Michael Porter’s key factors to successfully competing in the market. The aim is to take advantage of the learnings that arise, which could make an important contribution to new ventures in the field of aquaculture.
In 2014 one of the most funded Seafood projects in the United States was “Love the Wild” brand, a company with high commercial potential. Its CEO Jacqueline Claudia, a former farmworker at Kampachi Velella, had an ambitious business strategy.
This company grew and consolidated in 2017; an investment fund invested $2.5 million into the project. The plan, at the time, was to distribute in 3,000 stores across the U.S. market through Safeway, Wegmans, Target, and Wholefoods.
In March 2017, Vogue magazine published “Leonardo DiCaprio invests ethically.” Its public relations were so good that they caught the interest of the activist to become part of the investors, creating a boom in sales.
“This company sought the most sustainable products at that time: shrimp, trout, catfish, salmon, and farmed barramundi. They were sustainable because they used fishmeal free feed and other certifications.”
On the other hand, they had developed a gorgeous heart-shaped packaging that was selling successfully and was an innovation on supermarket shelves and refrigerators.
The cost for each kit was $7, which included one fillet of 170 grams and a sauce for its preparation. They had first-class traceability systems and the ranking list of sustainable species by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium.
All this business model was seen with great success. However, in 2019, the removal of all products from supermarkets was announced, and little by little, the company was declining. When closing this edition, its website www.lovethewild.com was completed with a sign “will be back soon.”
What can we learn from this business model if it had everything in its favor? However, if we analyze closely, we can understand that there are three ways to attack a market according to the father of the business strategy, Michael Porter.
- Cost leadership, that is, to be the cheapest in the segment to be in the best price point. For Love The
Wild were high-cost inputs; in this case, it was an expensive product for the market in 2014.
- Leadership in Differentiation refers to standing out from others in the market. In this case, the differentiation was in the packaging, a wise strategy, and an image of the brand ambassador DiCaprio.
- High segmentation or niche market refers to finding a specific niche with little competition. In this case, the market niche may have been too small for the expected sales.
We need to prioritize our commercial strategies, know what we are competitive in, and know our business.
“For “Love the wild”, they wanted to attack all the strategies simultaneously, and they didn’t know what their business was.”
And what does all this have to do with Mexican Aquaculture? Analyzing under this same perspective, we will use the Ecuadorian shrimp strategy as an example:
“First, they controlled their costs, consolidated production supply, and increased their volumes to obtain economies of scale in years, injection of technological tools, and more automation.”
Later they penetrated the Chinese and European markets, with shrimp head on, without neglecting sustainability and quality, in years. After several years of being internationally recognized for their costs, they entered the U.S. market.
Another example is the Mexican pork and poultry industries. They are highly productive, with different consolidated stages. After controlling their costs and dominating the production through automation and industrialization, the pork industry looked for a highly differentiated and demanding market niche that is the Japanese one. Still, they always knew they were in the food manufacturing business.
I am leaving my dear readers, but not before telling you about an experience. In 2016 I was invited by the Colombian Federation of Aquaculture Fedeacua and USSEC to talk about the seafood markets in Mexico and the United States.
At the World Tilapia Forum, among the keynote speakers, I met Dr. Osler Desouzart, one of the most recognized consultants in the world for his career and the significant development he had had in the pork and poultry industry in Brazil (first or second producer in the world).
We had the opportunity to chat at lunch, and when we introduced ourselves at the speakers’ table, he asked me where I was from. My answer was from Mexico, Sonora; he was surprised and answered, “I know Sonora.” “Explain to me, Alejandro, why they have a beautiful and competitive pork and poultry industry recognized worldwide, and I do not recognize tilapia or Mexican shrimp .”At the time, I did not know how to answer, but now, I understand what he was referring to after all these years.
*Alejandro Godoy is an advisor to aquaculture and fishing companies in Mexico and the United States. He has more than 8 years of experience in Trade Intelligence of fishery and aquaculture products, and has also carried out trade missions to Japan, Belgium and the United States. In addition, he was coordinator for the promotion and commercialization strategies of the Mexican Council for the Promotion of Fisheries and Aquaculture Products (COMEPESCA), the Mexican Tuna Council and the Mexican Shrimp Council.