Tim Lucas oversees marketing for Tip Top Foodservice which is part of the bakeries
division within George Weston Foods and makes up 20 per cent of its business.
When I started in this role about four years ago it quickly became apparent that we
had a real lack of data available to us from a foodservice perspective, unlike our retail colleagues who can access Aztec scan data from supermarkets which enables them to see what products are being sold in what quantities and so on. So I approached Sissel Rosengren at Food Industry Foresight and started accessing a range of subscription-based reports including Australian Foodservice and a number of others.
We have also commissioned FI Foresight to undertake a private study for us looking at bakery products in Australia. That has been very useful for our division because we’re now able internally to talk about the size of the market, why we are focusing on the products we are, why we should go down a particular path in product development
and so on.
The research also informs our sales team, helping them to identify which market channels they should focus attention on. We’re now conducting research on an annual basis and finding that each year the data is becoming more refined, because the feedback we give FI Foresight helps them identify exactly what we’re looking for and what sort of information is of most value to us.
The second piece of research we commissioned independently is a report called a brand equity study. This measures our brands that are sold into foodservice distributors and on to foodservice outlets and rates them against competitors.
It looks at brand awareness, trial, repeat purchase. It makes use of unprompted awareness measuring by interviewing foodservice operators – have they ever tried the product, are they still buying it? It gives us details on how our products and brands are perceived, whether people like them, what they think of our quality and pricing vs the competition. This provides great insights and a useful gauge about where our brands sit. Thanks to the skill of the research team, we’ve obtained a lot of anecdotal information, unprompted comment from our end-users which is really useful for us.
The brand equity study started as a one-off but we now do it year on year because it tracks our brands against competitors in terms of awareness and how favourably we’re seen by customers so we know where we sit. After relaunching one of our brands last year, the brand equity study showed a 12% point increase in our awareness rating compared with the previous year’s result. Surveyed study participants were also able to relay key messaging from our media campaign which they associated with the brand. This was evidence which proved the effectiveness of our brand marketing in terms of messaging and exposure.
The brand equity study has also shown us that one of our brands is doing much better than we had thought, which is a useful insight because it then frees up our sales and marketing to focus on other brands which may need more attention.
In addition to the independently commissioned reports we get the subscription services like Australian Foodservice, the annual fast food reports and the brand analysis report. That one is particularly good – there are around 35 manufacturers listed and they are rated on a number of service factors, including customer service, product quality and so on. It’s great to know what the customer views as your strengths – are we giving them enough personal attention, for example?
Earlier this week I gave a presentation at a board meeting and the information from FI Foresight was invaluable – we utilised the brand analysis, a category waterfall chart which shows the size of the market, what’s growing and what’s not. The credibility that this kind of research brings is so important because now it’s not just me talking about something – I’m able to show indepth research into a given topic and no one questions your conclusions once you’re able to back them up especially when it’s from a reputable business like FI Foresight.
There’s always a lot of jargon in our business and at the moment sporting metaphors are big – everything is being couched in terms of where to play and how to win.
I can say that FI Foresight absolutely provides us with the information that tells us where we should play.