Posted: November 25th, 2022
Case Analysis and Questions Due 15 JAN 2020
Respond to every aspect of the discussion prompt with originality.
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Case Analysis and Questions
Lee Lantz was a fish buyer working in South America when he observed a couple of fishermen carrying a fish with them as they were leaving the docks. It was an ugly thing, with big protruding teeth, and he asked them what it was. “Toothfish” was one reply; “cod of the deep” said the other. The five-foot long fish was too big for one person, and mistaking it for some type of bass, Lantz bought a piece and fried it up. Disappointed by the lack of flavor, he thought at first of ignoring the fish. But after thinking a while, he wondered if people might actually like a product that wasn’t “fishy.” Had he found something worthwhile?
First, though, it needed a name. Anything called toothfish wasn’t likely to sell too well. Lantz thought consumers were familiar with bass, so he tried variations: Pacific bass, South American bass, and so forth. He finally settled on Chilean sea bass as a name with an exotic flavor.
Then, he shipped some to chefs in New York City, asking them to try the fish and use it in their most exotic dishes. He got some wholesalers and distributors to carry it, aiming for the top of the restaurant market. That didn’t really work. He got a few sales, just enough to keep him going, but it just wasn’t working.
Then came a big break. A fish stick company, finding halibut’s price rising too rapidly, decided to buy out Lantz’s entire stock from one of the wholesalers that carried the fish. A distributor then realized it made a good substitute for black cod, a common Chinese fish used in restaurants, at a lower cost. Then more celebrity chefs tried it, and it wasn’t long before Bon Appetit magazine listed the fish as dish of the year. The fish’s lack of flavor actually made it especially good for carrying sauces and being the center of exotic dishes. The fish became so popular that it was nearly fished to extinction.
1. Was Lantz just lucky? Or was there good marketing along the way? If so, what was the good marketing?
2. The period of time from Lantz’s first sale to Bon Appetit’s award was fourteen years. How could he have used better marketing to accelerate that process of unknown to popular?
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