Friday, 15 April 2011

"Integrate and invest for food and drink success", says CIM

Marketing investment essential to maintain bottom line growth

In the shadow of a double-dip recession, business should recognise the role of marketing in safeguarding production

Food, drink and agriculture organisations must recognise the direct role that marketing plays in bottom line growth and safeguarding production, according to insight gained at CIM’s Food, Drink and Agriculture Group annual conference held at Imperial College London on 7 April.

To keep relevant and engaging for consumers, brands should make constant and consistent investment in new technologies and techniques to build their brand relationship with consumers.

With government cut backs starting to hit consumer spending, the pressure is mounting for food and drink producers. The threat of a double-dip recession is looming in the UK and speakers argued that the time is now for marketing to prove its worth in the field. Keynote speaker Adam Leyland, editor of The Grocer, emphasised the need for food, drink and agriculture brands to safeguard the supply chain through solid marketing investment; investing in consumer insight to fully understand what their customers want and how to deliver on this at each stage.

Substantial changes

Social media has driven some substantial changes in the way that businesses operate, from procurement through to the consumer. Food and drink companies must build a more integrated approach to the procurement and distribution chains, and the communication of these chains, helping to counter growing consumer concerns over security of supply, noted Leyland. 

Marketing directors from brands including Donald Russell Ltd, Coca Cola, New Zealand Wine Growers, Ginsters and Pink Lady® Apples further emphasised the need for food and drink businesses to develop fresh, relevant marketing messages based on consumer insight.  With many successful sector campaigns based on provenance, speakers called for marketers not to be hesitant about promoting the provenance of their products, regardless of source, and to exploit partnership opportunities with other brands, products and services with a similar customer base.

New legislation to be enforced to limit the amount of salt, fat and sugar in food and drink will see a number of marketing challenges for the industry, and a need to reformulate products through close consumer and stakeholder consultation. An integrated approach – from government, trade associations and regulatory bodies to employees, consumers and the media – is fundamental to ensure that all stakeholders are engaged and informed of issues. Here, UK marketers have an opportunity to demonstrate the power of marketing to drive business – through traditional as well as new avenues, progressing with the changes that social media brings to the supply chain.

John Giles, chairman of CIM’s FDA Group comments: “The fantastic range of speakers at this year’s conference proves that in food, drink and agriculture we are at the forefront of marketing innovation. From big brands to local producers, each and every industry professional must be aware of developments in technology, tactics and technique to keep ahead of the game.

“As the champion of marketing research, insight, learning and development, it is through events such as these that CIM encourages marketers to demonstrate the top and bottom line value that they can provide to the wider industry.”

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