Membership can be a brand builder

Across the board purse strings have tightened and many caterers are continuing to find it difficult to balance the books and stay in business. Knowing this about the foodservice market then makes me question the attitude of some major brands towards our market.

Incorrect, inappropriate and inefficient are three words that spring to mind when I consider the philosophy of some brands when it comes to pricing, promotions and marketing for foodservice.

Understanding specific customer needs

Brands need to reflect on their approach from top to bottom. Creating interest in a product by shouting about benefits, versatility, nutritional values, and even pack sizes and storage methods are key to success. These issues are all relevant in foodservice, so brands have to understand their customers otherwise caterers will disengage and switch to products that will meet their needs.

For caterers, the value of a product is about more than just the price. The high/low approach to pricing may help fill the storeroom, but it doesn’t get your products used more frequently. A consistent pricing policy that is quick to reflect downward price movements, not just upward, would entice caterers to continue purchasing when invariably they are tied to strict budget restrictions. We see too many occasions where brands are slow to react leaving them vulnerable.

I’m not saying that price promotions never work because especially in the current economic climate they help to protect from predatory brands, but our customers are looking for something more to make them purchase or continue purchasing a product.

Like it or not, wholesalers stock brands that make them money, and support brand owners that support their business. We have to be increasingly creative to give our wholesalers the margins they need to survive and give the caterer added value.

We did it our way

We have found that over the last few years there has been a surge in foodservice operators proactively selecting our Country Range brand products. Our own brand sales are growing at a much faster rate than the branded products, and this is based not just on price, or even the quality. Our own branded range is increasing due to our ability to promote through our Stir It Up publication and the fact that we drive sales through depot telesales.

Our suppliers need to acknowledge that their brand performance is unlikely to improve at Country Range Group unless they employ a similar approach to drive sales. We can certainly help if they approach us correctly and understand that we are a ‘selling group’.

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