July 20, 2023
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The global food manufacturing industry is massive and it continues to grow year on year. But with constantly changing food trends, ethical concerns and technology developments what type of marketing strategies should food manufacturers be using?
If you’re involved in food processing, packaging or food equipment development, read on to find out about smart marketing strategies for food manufacturers to help you gain a competitive advantage this year.
Food manufacturing – changing times
Today’s food manufacturing sector accounts for $11.7 trillion globally. The market is expected to grow annually by around 5%. But there’s no doubt that the sector also faces specific challenges. More on those in a minute.
How B2B food manufacturers respond to these challenges and anticipate the new ones is what determines the winners and the losers in the market. Here, we look at the key challenges faced in B2B food manufacturing today, and how marketers can use these to their advantage.
Marketing strategies for food manufacturers
Let’s take a look at some of those challenges and how to create smart marketing strategies to tackle them. Take for instance, constantly changing consumer demands for certain food products. Political or ethical trends such as the move to plant-based, clean-label and sustainability are playing heavily into this at the moment, and the movement keeps gathering pace. Yet consumers expect the products they love to reflect these ethical concerns whilst still retaining the same qualities in terms of taste, shelf-life and crucially, price. Remember the outrage when Marks and Spencer changed the recipe for Percy Pigs to make them vegetarian!
It’s a time-honoured principle in consumer marketing that emotion sells and this should be a priority in marketing strategies for food manufacturers. Memories are more firmly imprinted into people’s minds if they have an emotion attached to them and much consumer advertising uses this concept to maximum effect. But just as consumers are influenced by the emotionally charged messaging surrounding plant-based products and sustainability, so are the companies you are selling to. They want to be able to offer their customers products which are sustainably and ethically produced, because the people buying your equipment believe in these causes too.
Historically, much marketing in the food processing sector has emphasised yields and output increases, and of course, these are crucial to such a rapidly growing industry. But focussing heavily on profits just isn’t going to cut it any more, to say nothing of the growing number of green manufacturing mandates being issued by governments around the world.
Exciting technologies are emerging that allow food manufacturers to save on energy, natural resources and manual labour costs through automation and the latest smart sensor systems. So, they benefit the environment as well as everyone’s pockets!
In 2022, and beyond, you need to emphasise the wider global impact of your company’s approach to food processing and technology. Ultimately, there’s so much at stake here both in wider environmental terms and in terms of your own company’s survival in the years to come. Positive messaging around this area will impact the entire value chain down to the all-important end consumer. So, if you’re not there yet, get on board and shout about it!
Solve to sell, don’t sell to sell
This leads us on nicely to automation. The term ‘automation’ is met with a range of reactions, from fear to excitement, depending on where companies are within the food industry. Hesitancy to automate often centres around a number of issues, such as fear of employees being replaced by machines, the additional expense, or fear of losing ‘artisan’ status.
The important thing to bear in mind here is that today’s B2B customers do not want to be sold to, but ‘solved to.’ One of our clients has a particular passion for overcoming product challenges using technology. They’ve responded to customer needs by employing food technologists and engineers to keep adapting equipment to improve product consistency, quality, line flexibility and so on. This really keeps them at the top of their game and the market leader in the sector, with several ‘only one on the market’ innovations.
So rather than replacing employees, automation is actually starting to upskill the whole food industry. Yes, automation can often replace the human touch at an operations level. But increasingly a workforce is needed that can develop automated food technology, solve technology challenges, and develop recipe or packaging programming with individualised parameters for different food lines.
This is massive for your brand’s image, and will in time also move public perception of manufacturing away from one of monotony towards one that more people will gravitate towards as a career choice, strengthening future recruitment. Getting on board with automated food technology as part of your marketing strategy can be used to position your company as a supplier of solutions, not just equipment. Technology is even being developed that can incorporate traditional processes such as batch smoking into automated lines, so artisan qualities needn’t be lost.
What’s more, automation allows increased throughput and much lower standard deviation, so it’s worth the investment in the long run and will result in less wastage and fewer costly recalls. Embracing automation and promoting its benefits should be included in all future marketing strategies for food manufacturers.
Get ready to disrupt patterns
As the old adage says, if you do the same thing over and over again you cannot expect different results. The past ten years or so has seen a dramatic shift towards digital based marketing at least in the commercial world (think YouTube, GoogleAds etc), while some manufacturers are still scrambling to catch up. These changes are reflective of changes in society and the attitudes and expectations of the people you’re trying to sell to.
Furthermore, many B2B food manufacturing companies have relied on word of mouth referrals, fixed customer bases and face-to-face contacts at tradeshows and exhibitions. But regardless of that first contact, prospects will always search for you online to check out your website and social profiles to get a feel for what you offer and also whether they want to do business with you or not based on what they see. It’s at this point that you need to convince them to see your value and choose you. Specialised marketing outreach is where you can disrupt traditional patterns and influence behaviour. So more smart marketing strategies for food manufacturers should actually explore where your audiences are searching for and finding information and speak to them directly in different ways and on different platforms. Growth requires more than what you’re already doing, or mixing it up and doing things differently.
So, in short, the rapid growth of the food manufacturing sector, changing consumer demands, and continuing developments in automation and digital marketing all mean that it’s essential your marketing becomes strategically driven this year. To stay ahead of the game in 2022 you need to:
At Allott and Associates, we specialise in creating and delivering bespoke PR and marketing campaigns for B2B food and packaging manufacturers that drive up brand visibility and promote food manufacturers to get results where it really matters.
Are factors like automation, the plant-based trend and sustainability demands rocking the boat for your business? Allotts is helping food manufacturers across the globe navigate these challenges, and disrupt the norm, even reshaping marketing strategies so they are fit for the future.