As a Sainsbury’s and Asda merger announces a dual brand strategy, is it time to rethink your own brand?

With the news that grocery giants Sainsbury’s and Asda are set to merge and promise to cut the cost of shoppers’ baskets by 10%, producers large and small must focus on strongly communicating the added value of their brand and capitalise on a growing number of shoppers who are turned off by the supermarket monopolies, says marketing consultant Amy Woolliscroft.

“Diversifying your farm business with an ‘added value’ enterprise is nothing new to farmers and landowners, but now more than ever we must emphasise the added value to the consumer and appeal to shoppers that are increasingly prioritising food provenance, animal welfare and a quality-over-quantity attitude to food,” says Amy.

Amy continues: “Value is no longer just price orientated, with customer experience, provenance, welfare, company ethics and heritage, being important factors in consumer buying decisions. Some consumers also like to ‘show-off’ to peers that they buy respected brands with these priorities in mind.”

With recent Ofcom research showing that British adults spend an average of a whole day each week online, the opportunities to showcase your brand and how it can enhance consumers’ lives on social media, blogs and websites are endless. Amy has put together her top tips to help your rural brand get its value messaging across to a targeted audience in an increasingly challenging food production market:

1) Identify your target audience and their priorities. Your product may be more directed to mums, ‘foodies’, local consumers or city dwellers looking for a taste of the country. Whatever your market, it is important to understand how they shop and what drives them to buy. Follow key influencers on Instagram and join relevant groups on Facebook, anything that can help you get a gauge of what drives their shopping decisions and is on trend all helps form your plan of attack.

2) Formulate a brand strategy. Regardless of your product and who you are trying to reach, it’s important to have a brand strategy and stick to it. This must be true to your products and easily communicated – if you need any help on this, get the experts involved! A marketing and communications consultant is a business investment but will help create a brand that can be believed and maintained, and give you a clear plan of attack.

3) Ensure that you have a working and up to date website and social media platform. Once you know your target audience and what drives them, make sure that you have a good website and presence on Facebook, twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Shoppers expect a digital offering from brands and it is a cheap way to communicate your brand on a daily basis. Be consistent with posts to communicate your brand values and constantly review your content.

4) Invest in social media advertising. The growth of social media advertising is astronomical, with a 14.3% year on year rise in online advertising in 2017. All social media platforms offer easy-to-use paid-for advertising options, with budgets from just a few pounds, and tools to really hone and hit a targeted audience. It is also worth getting in touch with key influencers within your audience; if you want to increase sales to families in Rutland, get in touch with a Rutland lifestyle blogger to see if they will do a review of your product on their site. You may have to pay them for it, but influencers are well respected by their followers, so an advert with them is usually good value for money.

The Sainsbury’s and Asda merger will undoubtedly result in a squeeze on pricing for suppliers, but it does also offer an opportunity for farm and rural enterprises to appeal to a growing number of shoppers that are looking outside the big five (soon to be four) supermarket giants.

If you need any support in the best course of action for your business, you can contact Amy Woolliscroft today for a no obligation chat amy@artheyassociates.co.ukor 07858 656444.

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