Integrate and invest for food and drink success, says CIM

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Food and drink companies must recognise the role marketing plays in bottom line growth and safeguarding production, according to insight at The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Food, Drink and Agriculture Group conference on 7 April 2011.

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, delegates heard.

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 it is time for marketing to prove its worth.

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

Marketing directors from brands including Donald Russell, Coca Cola, New Zealand Wine Growers, Ginsters and Pink Lady Apples 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, said: “The fantastic range of speakers at this year’s conference proves 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 CIM encourages marketers to demonstrate the top and bottom line value they can provide to the wider industry.”