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…. Kingsford Charcoal. Daniel Brockman Breanne Klose Elaine Ormonde-Hua Gizem Ozdemir Quyen Tran. Ellsworth B. A. Zwoyer patented charcoal briquettes in 1897* Henry Ford made briquettes from wood scraps in 1920

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kingsford charcoal

Kingsford Charcoal

Daniel Brockman

Breanne Klose

Elaine Ormonde-Hua

Gizem Ozdemir

Quyen Tran

kingsford s history

Ellsworth B. A. Zwoyer patented charcoal briquettes in 1897*

  • Henry Ford made briquettes from wood scraps in 1920
  • Ford\'s relative E.G. Kingsford built a briquette plant and commercialized the business in 1920
  • Clorox bought Kingsford in 1973
  • Kingsford had 59% market share in 2000

Kingsford\'s History

Henry Ford, 1919 (Library of Congress,



kingsford s swot


    • Market leader with 59% market share
    • 40% profit margin
    • 60% of consumers consider Kingsford a quality product
    • Strong brand recognition and recall
    • Kingsford has influential relationship with retailers
    • 2-to-1 consumers prefer the taste of charcoal-grilled food to gas-grilled food
    • Dependent on positive relationship with retailers for generous store displays and promotions
    • Dependent on weather to encourage impulse buys, which account for 30% of sales
    • Majority of sales occur between May and September
    • Longer cooking time and messier than gas grilling

Kingsford’s SWOT

    • Build brand equity by being the only active advertiser in the charcoal market
    • Increase market size by expanding to untapped market segments
    • Expand to markets outside of the U.S.
    • Lead the market in product innovations with flavored and environmentally-friendly lines
    • Gas grilling has become more popular due to faster cooking time and ease of cleanup
    • Competitor price increases and lack of advertising have resulted in slower growth of charcoal sales
    • Production issues may hurt availability if growth occurs
    • Greater attention to human and environmental health


kingsford s questions

How do we increase overall charcoal use?

  • How do we increase Kingsford’s sales?
  • Should we increase prices?
  • Should we address production issues?

Kingsford’s Questions


BBQ Sweet Potatoes, John Dawson,

alternatives potential actions

Alternatives/Potential Actions

Facilitate consumer interest in charcoal grilling

Increase advertising

Expand beyond U.S.

Increase prices

Expand current product line

Do nothing


criteria for evaluating alternatives

Sales of charcoal

  • Sales of Kingsford
  • Brand cachet
  • Profitability

Criteria for Evaluating Alternatives

Tasmanian Salmon,


analysis facilitate consumer interest in charcoal grilling

Collaborate with grill manufacturers

  • Partner with retailers to offer point of purchase
  • discounts on meat purchase with charcoal purchase
  • Sponsor events where grilled foods
  • are for sale
  • Feature charcoal grilling recipes and
  • barbecue party ideas in lifestyle/cooking magazines and television shows
  • Promote charcoal use outside of
  • traditional grilling holidays and occasions

Analysis: Facilitate Consumer Interest in Charcoal Grilling



Analysis: Facilitate Consumer Interest in Charcoal Grilling

  • Pros:
    • Emulates Gillette\'s successful model: Give away the razor and sell the blades
    • Addresses threat of gas grilling by strengthening awareness of charcoal grilling in minds of consumers
    • Fosters positive associations of charcoal grilling
    • Attracts new charcoal users who don\'t have a grill
  • Cons:
    • Will increased sales justify the cost?


analysis increase advertising

Increase volume and frequency of ads

      • $7 million budget recommended during peak season
    • Leverage consumer associations of charcoal grilling as an American pastime
    • Celebrity endorsement
    • Target new segments: women and foodies
  • Pros:
    • Consumers receive greater exposure to charcoal
    • No active charcoal advertising competition
    • Low risk of saturation 
    • Capture increased market share of targeted segments
  • Cons:
    • Stimulated demand may strain production capacity
    • Internal Clorox budget
    • Must take care to avoid alienating existing masculine clientele

Analysis: Increase Advertising


analysis expand beyond the u s

Analysis: Expand Beyond the U.S.

Target customers outside of the U.S.

Position product to correspond with local culture in new markets


 Increases size of Kingsford\'s market


Production currently limited to 5 U.S.-based plants

Environmental and health regulations

of some regions

Clorox lacks experience outside North America

Insufficient information of international markets


analysis increase prices

Maintain 25% to 30% price differential

  • Pros:
    • Higher prices improve profits per
    • unit sold
    • Consistent with charcoal competitors\'
    • price increases
    • Enhances brand cachet
  • Cons:
    • When competitors raised prices and Kingsford\'s prices remained static, sales of Kingsford increased  
    • Competitive advantage of discount brands is weakened when their prices are closer to Kingsford\'s
    • Retailer might respond negatively and decrease Kingsford promotions 

Analysis: Increase Prices



analysis expand current product line

Create flavored and environmentally friendly/healthier

  • lines of charcoal
  • Pros:
    • Allows Kingsford to lead industry
    • in innovation
    • Appeal to growing "green" and
    • health conscious market segments
    • Enhances brand cachet
  • Cons:
    • Increased costs
    • Is there a demand for "green" or health conscious charcoal?
    • Brings attention to environmental and health concerns of existing products
    • Cannibalization of regular charcoal sales

Analysis: Expand Current Product Line



analysis do nothing

Leave prices unchanged while competitors\' prices rise

    • Maintain $1 million budget for advertising and promotion
    • Do not expand into international markets or develop new product lines
  • Pros:
    • No production constraints
    • Free and easy
  •  Cons:
    • Position of charcoal remains stagnant
    • in consumers\' minds
    • Slow growth of Kingsford sales
    • Shrinkage of overall charcoal market size

Analysis: Do Nothing




Focus on increasing overall charcoal market size

    • Strengthen link of grilling and charcoal in consumers\' minds
    • What\'s good for charcoal is good for Kingsford
  • Increase advertising budget to $7 million
    • Use increased budget to advertise charcoal grilling during nontraditional occasions
    • Present charcoal grilling as female-friendly and essential for premium flavor
  • Do not increase prices
    • Continue to reap benefit of increased competitor prices
  • Research international expansion opportunities
    • Explore viability of expansion





5. In order to appropriately innovate, conduct market research to determine why consumers have switched from charcoal grilling to gas grilling

    • If research determines that environmental and health concerns were primary factors, initiate research and development into product lines to address these concerns
  • 6. With production currently at 80% of capacity, forecast increased sales (given the success of each recommendation) and explore all possibilities for meeting demand
    • Keeping in mind that building a new production facility requires upwards of 5 years and $50 million





Except where noted, all information came from the case description, Narayandas and Wagonfeld, Kingsford Charcoal (2006), Boston, MA, USA: Harvard Business School Publishing.





production constraints in 2000

Production constraints in 2000

Current production from 5 U.S. plants

Kingsford\'s plants operate at 80% of capacity

Kingsford\'s market share is 60%

100% = 80% * 1.25Current plants could supply a 25% increase in Kingsford sales

Production manager estimates:

New plant costs $50M

Permitting takes 3 years


Begin site selection and permitting

Next year, reconsider whether to build


bbq grill shipments north america

BBQ Grill Shipments, North America


Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association (HPBA), https//

demand curve

Demand Curve

When prices of competitors rose in 2000, Kingsford gained market share

For 1% increase in price relative to competition, Kingsford will lose approximately 4%-points to 8%-points of market share.



Market share: Kingsford sold 74% of charcoal in North America in 2009. (Clorox investors\' overview (March 2010) Oakland, CA, USA: The Clorox Company.)

  • Innovation: Kingsford introduced Surefire (R) Grooves enabling faster lighting, hotter and longer burning briquettes. (
  • Kingsford produces 8 varieties of charcoal
    • 2 "natural"
    • 2 instant
    • 2 regular
    • Specialty hickory and mesquite (