So much has changed in the food industry in a very short period of time. For those of us who work in this industry we would say it has always been very competitive and sales are one of the most important metrics in your business. For years I would have been telling people you need to focus on sales. Your customers are focused on sales and you need to be to. In this new environment there is a different feeling. We almost feel guilty trying to develop initiatives to ‘drive sales’ as so many businesses are struggling to survive or had to close.
In my own business I have also been struggling with this issue. My focus has shifted in recent weeks and there are times when it seems strange to be charging people to help them get through all of this. Last week I shared with you that I have had to shift my mindset. Part of that shift was to stop thinking about charging people in a challenging time and start thinking about helping them when they need it more than ever. The best sales strategies focus on solutions and eliminating the buyer’s pain. If I can help a food business during such difficult times that is a better accomplishment than when times are good.
You do need to continue to produce food and your product does need to be available for consumers. You should feel proud to offer something that is essential to life. During these challenging times we need to change the thinking from driving sales to delivering food solutions. You are still trying to sell your products but in a different way.
One opportunity for me to give back has been to do the Recipe for Success series on Wednesdays at 2 pm Atlantic (1 pm Eastern). This week we will share some insights to help you deliver sales in challenging times. Here is the link to join us Wednesday afternoon:
We will focus on some of the strategies you used prior to Covid-19 to drive sales and how they can become food solutions in the new environment. One of the biggest challenges for a lot of producers and processors is the elimination of demos. This is a popular tool to drive sales and increase awareness for your product. To help figure out some options I will use the following approach:
a) People get to try your product. They experience it before they buy and perhaps you give them an opportunity to experience the product as an ingredient or with a complimentary item.
b) Demos eliminate risk for consumers. They can make the decision to buy without the risk of spending money on something they do not like.
c) Exposure in the store is important. You get an opportunity to get the attention of consumers in a very crowded environment.
a) It is not possible to sample in the store.
b) Consumers are much more likely to shop with a list they make at home. This ensures they reduce the time in the store and they are being told to go once per week so they cannot forget anything.
c) More than 10% of shopping is now being done online. This means consumers are determining their meals a week in advance.
d) More people are at home and they are on social media much more.
e) Many consumers are cooking and baking more than they have in years.
I have been talking a lot about the positive stories from one end of the food and beverage value chain to the other. People are stepping up to really do some incredible things and keep food flowing in very challenging times. It is also important to remember you can build the best relationships with your customers when times are tough. Here are some examples of food businesses across Canada making a difference. There are many more stories and I would love to hear what you are doing in your business. Just send me an email at Peter@SKUFood.com or call me at (902) 489-2900 or Li and FB.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, Rideout's Farm Inc. and Larch Grove Holsteins in Cormack and Simms Distributing of Agropur Deer Lake teamed up to do a milk and potato giveaway. Ian Richardson of Larch Grove had the idea after he saw it being done in PEI. Melvin Rideout from Rideout’s farm it was a great thing to do to give back to the community during these trying times. They approached the Town of Deer Lake and they provided the venue and support workers and the rest as they say was history. It was every well received and there were many thanks from everyone.
In Manitoba, for every case of Piccola Cucina Limonetti 2 packs purchased, the company will donate and deliver a case to front line health care workers.
In Nova Scotia, Nova Agri, Randsland Farm, Den Haan Greenhouses, Valley Harvest Sweet Potatoes and Agri Growers donated a second pallet of food to the Glenholme Petro Canada who is serving free meals to truck drivers. They wanted to show the drivers how much they are appreciated during these challenging times.
In New Brunswick McCain foods donated 20,000,000 lbs of potatoes to food banks. These potatoes were destined for processing but with food service being down they were no longer required for French fry production.
When we talk about changing the mindset think about people in the food service and culinary industry. They have really been forced to either change their business or shut down so much of it. Alain Bosse, The Kilted Chef would have been travelling to events all over the world sharing his culinary skills. To stay busy Alain and Joanne started to do a FB live everyday at 3pm to share a recipe and cooking tips. It has become so popular he is generating huge followers on FB. The new medium allows him to reach thousands of people anywhere in the word. He has really grown his brand and reach through a challenging time. If you have a special request for a recipe or even to see your product in there let him know at The Kilted Chef.