Marketing your Food Business

Before you strike out and set up a food business, there are a few very important questions you need to ask, and you may not always like the answer. This is called Market Gap Analysis.

Questions to be asked include:

  1. Is there a gap in the market for your food / food business? Is there anyone doing locally / regionally / nationally what it is that you want to do?
  2. Is your food / food business Unique (how?) Different? Better?
  3. When did you last benchmark your food products? In other words, compare them to your competitors, honestly!
  4. When did you last assess the competition? What are they doing in terms of marketing, packaging, pack sizes, varieties etc.
  5. Have you segmented your target market? i.e., demographics – see below!
  6. When will they buy it and where will they consume it, i.e., on what occasions? and how does this impact on pack sizes, quantities, packaging?
  7. How can you help the retailers make more sales? In store demos and tastings, shelf ready packs, social media, competitions.
  8. Is the market big enough or is it too niche? Will enough people buy it or can you price it at a level that you can make a profit?
  9. What are consumers willing to pay for your foods? Benchmark against others, does the gap analysis and benchmarking indicate that there may be a gap for a cheaper / luxury / small / bigger version of what your competitors do?
Define and segment the target market: 

– Segmentation of Food Shoppers By Usage, Motivation and Needs; 
– Identify what your target customer wants;
– Who buys / will buy your foods? Families, couples, older people, singletons, children…?
– Determine when they will buy your foods, i.e., on what occasion – every day, special occasion, treat, parties etc;
– Determine what motivates them to buy it – price, quality, convenience, allergen needs, meets ethical considerations (Fair Trade, Organic, low air miles etc), local / Irish food, occasion etc.;
Identify gaps in the market not currently serviced – this will come from the Gap Analysis you’ve completed as described above

Marketing activities 

Many producers approach marketing in a haphazard way, not really thinking it through, or thinking they can do it on the side, or via social media on their phone in front of the TV! But really, you need some structure. So ask yourself:

Do you have a marketing plan? What marketing activities are you planning to do this year?

Do you have a marketing budget? Possibly no, but you really should budget for in store tastings, your time, travel, giveaways, attendance at trade fairs & shows (whenever they’re back on!), social media marketing, promotions etc.

Who is going to do your social media work? Which platforms are you going to use? (this will be dictated by your market segmentation, as different age groups and genders use different social media platforms – here are some tips as to which to choose), how often are you going to post? have you got a good image bank, i.e., great photographs you can use?

I hope you’ve found these tips useful. You can read more about Marketing in Chapter 6 (Routes to Market, Branding & Marketing) of my book Money for Jam – the Essential Guide to Starting Your Own Food Business, available to buy from any of the great book sellers listed here!

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