Food & Beverage Marketing

Food and Beverage marketing: Challenger or Defender, what’s it gonna be?

Marketing is a broad concept that includes verbal-based communication which covers traditional ‘advertising’ (such as television, radio, print ads and billboards) and broader promotional strategies (such as social media and PR). In addition, the concept of marketing includes non-verbal-related activities, such as determining product prices and locations within stores. These non-speech activities are important in the context of food marketing practices. For example, the items in checkout aisles capture audiences attention for they must pass through in order to pay and exit the store (Pomeranz & Adler, 2015).

Food and beverage marketing has evolved from one brand advertisement to one broader attempt to shape the perception of the public about the company and its products. For example, fair trade coffee can be the same as other coffee, but the fair trade indication provides information about the company’s working methods. David Vladeck, former director of the FTC, referred to this as ‘image’ advertising and quoted that instead of concentrating on the product, it focuses on ‘the identity that the company wants to project to the public’ (Pomeranz & Adler, 2015). Food and beverage industries could invest their money in brand building to increase the price consumers are willing to pay for a product. An efficacious strategy in promoting the brand and perfecting the formula allows brands to charge more for their product than regional and smaller brands (Perner, n.d.).

Branding strategy

But what strategy is effective when brands want to reach goals like these? We need to take a closer look at marketing food and beverages and just like other types of products and services, these products often include general marketing approaches and applied marketing techniques. In food and beverage marketing there are very important topics, such as test marketing, segmentation, positioning, branding, targeting, consumer research and market access strategies. In addition, food marketing may depend on the harvest and so provokes other challenges, such as dealing with perishable products whose quality and availability vary (Perner, n.d.).

As said, brand positioning is essential to determine what is represented by the brand and which market and consumers are targeted. Just as Vladeck referred to ‘image’ marketing, this is where brand positioning is all about when placing an image of itself in the minds of the customers (Infinity Research, n.d.). This can mean that the brand leverages its existing name by developing new product lines. When there has been a great investment in brand proposition, consumers develop a certain level of brand loyalty which results in a strong commitment, even when an attractive offer is made by competitors (Perner, n.d.).



Do we judge a book by its cover? Yes, we do. This reflects how customers tend to judge a product based on its packaging. The appearance should get the customers’ attention (Infinity Research, n.d.). Besides the principal role of packaging (such as containing and protecting the product) there is a techno-commercial role (such as optimising costs of delivery and maximising sales). Brands should consider choices in containment, protection, preservation, product information, convenience, presentation, brand communication, promotion, economy and environmental responsibility (Coles & Kirwan, 2011).

Focussing on food and beverages itself, investment in a product is possible by using high quality ingredients or by improving it through extensive research and development. McDonald’s and Burger King, for example, invest millions of dollars to improve their French fries (Perner, n.d.). And what makes the customer want to buy that specific product? Brand awareness is not enough. Brands should find out if consumers recognize their product and find out which brand they prefer and why. They must be aware of their place in the product life cycle: is the product new or relaunched? Is it seasonal or all year available? With all this knowledge, F&B brands should define their strategy and grow their market share (Celentano, 2018).

Now it’s up to the consumer

Once in the store it’s interesting to see what is the best position in the store and on the shelf. Enough is to be learned about location and positioning, the interesting thing however, is that wherever your brand is located, you know for sure that your competitor is right there too. So now it’s up to the consumer. Will he or she make the connection at the point of purchase?

That’s where in store advertising comes in. The video screens, wobblers, shelf talkers or more prominent floor stickers or floorwindos, different items to influence the consumer where it matters most. At the POP! Brand preference is challenged, will you be a challenger or a defender? Instore advertising, dollars well spent!

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