Monday, December 26, 2005

From Business Strategy to Bottled Stupidity

There are some interesting developments afoot in the authentic Australian food industry and some marketers hoping to ride the trend.

Some strategic alliances building business

In January, we roll out a promotional campaign announcing one new strategic alliance with an Australian family restaurant chain. The early menu testing has had fantastic results so we are expecting a huge response on the full roll out. We also plan to launch the rolled Wattleseed pavlova as a frozen dessert and begin to ensconce it as our national dessert. For a recipe to make your own and a reminder of Australia Day 05, have a look at my past blog. I won't get into the argument as to if we or the Kiwis invented the pavlova but I am happy with leaving our neighbours with the cow-pat pav (pavlova) while we exploit the sophistication of a roulade-style pavlova dessert.

A second strategic alliance is with Descendance and we are very excited to have the major Aboriginal performance troupe in Australia associated with our global Dining Downunder™, Australian cuisine promotions schedule. Our collaboration of authentic Australian food and Aboriginal dance and didjeridu (yidaki) was extremely successful in Moscow this year and we look forward to our joint promotions during 2006.

Another go at the supermarkets

Last week saw a major Victorian food manufacturer embrace several ingredients from a group of desert Aboriginal communities and wave the flag for authentic Australian foods. They are targeting the supermarkets with a stated aim of having authentic Australian foods an everyday part of Australia’s diet as well as hoping to build export markets.

This is great news as the existing range of sauces, dressings and seasonings is not doing big numbers in Coles and really needs a shot in the arm with the injection of some food technology from a company with some manufacturing expertise. One company makes an Illawarra plum chilli sauce which is clear in colour when everyone knows that Illawarra plums are a deep purple from the anti-oxidants in them (highly nutritional ingredients and all the more reason for using the plums).

I also saw that the seasonings by the same company are currently being dumped at 50c a pack and hope that this heralds their re-development to also address quality issues.

When will manufacturers learn that you can’t dupe the market? It will always sort out the quality products from the rubbish, given enough time.

More on this later …

Cherikoff authentic Australian foods help more companies grow for another record year

I firmly believe that we need more high quality products on the market. From seeing what my own range does to build the authentic Australian food sector both for my own company but more importantly, for the many clients I supply, I know the benefits to be gained from products which are different, unique, invaluable and passionately desirable.

Just have a look at the products of companies I supply, including Dick Smith Foods' Bushfood Breakfast and two of his successful soups, McCormick's spices, Charles Sturt Uni and Tilba cheeses, SPC Ardmona (Taylor's) sauces and even Woolies' Australian pepper sausages. And watch the shelves for Quandong hair care products in the New Year along with at least 5 other new food and cosmetic product range launches.

Of course we can always come unstuck. For example, the two supermarket buyers in our major Australian stores decided they didn't want to stock the exceptional King Island Lemon myrtle and maple yoghurt and so no Australian can now get this product as a result. Even though it proved itself in food service and made the grade in the specialty stores and deli's, not scoring the supermarkets meant that the volumes just weren't there for a multi-national like National Foods (owned by San Miguel of the Philippines). This fantastic yoghurt has gone the way of the dodo unless consumers begin a campaign to the supermarkets encouraging the buyers to reconsider.

In the food service sector and for the manufacturers we supply, Cherikoff authentic Australian ingredients provide the tools the end user needs to build my clients’ businesses. Think about this as it is a difficult concept to communicate. As I supply the best ingredients available, the discerning, creative and innovative chefs and manufacturers who are my clients are able to make equally invaluable dishes and products which are then talked about by the ultimate consumers of the products. We know that the best promotion money can buy is the passionate endorsement by those who know first hand – diners, consumers, end users. However, it is interesting how so many chefs and manufacturers continue to do the same thing year after year and expect a different result. Isn't that a definition for insanity?

I am convinced that if everyone believed your marketing, everyone would be your customer. Having people who try my authentic Australian ingredients and love them, talk about, refer, recommend and rave about them is the best marketing strategy I can employ.

Bottled Stupidity

And now another marketing strategy which is practicing that adage; if you can fool some of the people some of the time...

A company which I predict will struggle is marketing bottled water with ‘bush flower essences’ – read this as marketing fluff. I have to agree with Neil Shoebridge from the Financial Review who perfectly described the range as Bottled Stupidity.

Unfortunately, they demean the real marketing substance of authentic Australian ingredients.

As Neil points out, consumers are not idiots but the marketers of this water obviously think they are. He goes on to say these guys take the concept of questionable benefits to a new level. They are co-opting naturopaths who seemingly do not care about their reputations and lend their endorsements to the product claiming it has calming properties; enhances well-being; or is particularly suited to women. What are women less able to judge the authenticity of a claim of benefit where there can be none or do they mean it's just the water which is good for you?

There is absolutely no scientific evidence that flower essences have any beneficial effects whatsoever. The marketers know this and make claims which cannot be tested such as improving your intuition, insight or creativity (sic). However, should their supplier of this snake oil choose the wrong flower (if they actually even pick a single blossom), they could extract an unhealthy concentration of compounds such as histamines (which could cause dramatic allergic responses) or equally worrying, chemicals called fluoroacetates, which are similar to the compounds in the bait poison, 1080. Do these marketers really know or understand the risk and consequences of what they are doing? I hear that the supplier ‘discovered’ the ‘remarkable’ qualities of the flowers by “meditating in the bush” and then made infinitely dilute solutions of the flowers to make his snake oil. Spare me. I actually know that he simply wrote down the names of plants I presented at a short course on Aboriginal foods years ago at Sydney University. Who could really think that there's any substance behind this product despite the full colour advertisements in the glossy magazines and stands of the water in retail stores. I know I'd be wanting my money back if my purchasing manager bought the stuff in to retail.

I fully endorse Neil’s comments, “If the people (behind this water) think that anyone will buy this hogwash, they are delusional.”

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