Enhanced market research efforts, implementing additional sales channels and carrying out trend analysis are just some of the reasons Irish Food Producers are growing today.
Prioritising Market research
From spending time online, carrying out observational practices, to testing products on potential customers, Market Research is a very important element for food producers to learn more about their customer base and about buyer behaviour.
The internet provides a substantial opportunity to carry out wide-ranging research activity, such as studying online retailers and their existing ranges all in one place, monitoring competitors’ activity, and assessing any potential partners for going to market (such as food incubators).
Market research efforts go beyond ‘desk research’ also. Paying a visit to local retail stores can provide first-hand information into what is already getting listed, how competitor offerings are differentiated and any gaps that can be exploited. What products are already on the shelves? What are the price-points? What is the packaging like? How do all of these differ between the various competing brands that are listed?
Expanding their range of sales channels
For many producers getting listed with retailers is the be-all and end-all, however there has never been more avenues available to reach end customers.
Farmers markets and trade events are a great way for producers to showcase their offering first-hand to potential customers, and to distributors/buyers. Food producers have an advantage over producers from other industries at trade shows, as customers can sample the product first-hand and form an initial impression.
The larger supermarkets are reporting significant increases in people doing their shopping online. However more and more customers are also shopping online directly with food producers, who have their own online shop. The food producer can offer cheaper delivery prices than the major retailers – a factor that 68% of current online grocery shoppers consider as their main criteria for choosing where to shop online.
Online marketplaces, such as Amazon, further increase producers’ overall online presence.
Focusing on the back-office elements of the business
It can be easy for producers to neglect the unseen side of their business. In terms of building business relationships, they often place too much emphasis on customer loyalty, however most don’t spend enough time building relationships with the main actors across the supply chain, from retailers to distributors to suppliers. Inevitably, things do go wrong in the supply chain from time to time, but interacting and building relationships will help to amend these issues.
Investing in supply chain solutions – such as automating orders and invoices, managing all trading partners on one system and syncing inventory with online sales channels – will save time and costs in the long-term, so that overall business activity can be managed on a greater scale.
Reacting to trends
The Irish food industry has seen a large number of new trends come to the fore in recent times
Health food products have received a huge surge. According to Bord Bia, Irish grocery shopper baskets are reflecting this trend towards healthy eating with 17% more fibre, and 11.5% more protein appearing in the Irish shoppers basket over the past five years.
Many producers are entering the market with their own healthy food alternatives to respond to this growing demand.
Demand for food-on-the-go is also on the rise. Bord Bia’s latest report shows more than 35% of consumer spend is in areas like counter service and drive-thru outlets. There is a growing demand for food products that can be eaten on the go, and more and more producers are leaning towards this type of offering.
The Role of Social Media
Social Media is an efficient and cost effective marketing tool for food producers, as well as an added sales channel. Producers can easily communicate special offers and carry out competitions; and their customers can in turn promote the product by sharing images on their own Social Media accounts.
It is difficult to log into Instagram nowadays without being met with a selection of photogenic food offerings brightening up the newsfeed.
Social Media platforms – particularly Instagram – allow food producers to share explainer videos of how to make/cook/customise their offering.
Producers are also increasingly using influencers to promote their offering – further increasing exposure.