Stephanie Moe, Marketing Strategy Manager, Bord Bia – Irish Food Board
Being local may be not be possible in a global context but striving for local relevance in global markets can certainly pay dividends. It is some time since the term locavore first emerged, used to describe people with a preference for local food and drink (Mintel). Consumers are seen to value local food and drink because of perceived benefits such as supporting the local economy, transparency, products seen as more natural, higher quality together with the eco-friendly aspect of buying from local producers (Euromonitor 2017).
The growing trend for local sourcing began with food, largely centered on artisan producers/growers and direct via farmers’ markets or other direct sales channels. Foodservice operators across much of the western world have increasingly adopted a local focus too with menus dialing-up provenance as the trend has become more entrenched and consumer interest has grown; many Irish examples have been recognised by Bord Bia’s Just Ask Campaign, running for over 10 years now.
Consumers’ evolving needs and interest in authentic stories, in health and wellbeing and in sustainability have all boosted the appeal of local which can resonate strongly in each of these contexts. But in a world where success often involves international expansion, how can companies effectively win over such consumers in new markets? Remaining relevant to consumers in this context is a key challenge facing big international players.
Some (Coca-Cola, Danone, Unilever etc) have tapped in to the consumer appetite for local by acquiring or investing in small authentic players that inherently tick the local (and often the innovation) box. Others are finding ways to align to local needs and preferences through localised NPD. A well-established example, Nestlé’s KitKat brand in Japan bears little resemblance to its less adulterated chocolate offering in Europe. The Nippon KitKat has become a veritable craze with a myriad of flavours from wasabi to azuki bean, soy sauce to cherry blossom, with some that are even billed as souvenirs local to a particular place. Nestlé have also opened a number of Chocolatory stores/cafés in the country also where more premium/exclusive offerings can be found.
Of course, many multinationals are seeking to better understand their audience and achieve resonance by tailoring their actions in local markets. Some recent examples include:
- Amazon’s La Boutique des Producteurs section in France featuring small French producers (Mintel).
- Nestlé Mexico’s commitment to using 100% Mexican maize by 2022 to support local farmers and combat climate change (Mintel)
- Evolving from a national approach seeing multinational QSR operators as their competition, Pizza Hut in India adopted a hyper-localised digital marketing approach, treating each of their outlets as a single location and targeting live consumer online food searches. Their hugely successful digital campaign saw the company achieve a $9.4m in incremental sales over a 12 month period (Bowman, 2019)
A great example of a successful localised campaign by a multinational player is Gillette’s successful campaign in Israel last year (WARC, 2019). Anyone could be forgiven for thinking that Israeli Orthodox Jews might not be a key target for a brand such as Gillette, focused on shaving!
But Gillette, together with agency MediaCom, topped the rankings in the WARC Media 100 in March [annual ranking of the world’s most awarded campaigns for creativity & innovation in media] with their 2018 I don’t roll on Shabbos deodorant campaign. The campaign addressed a specific problem faced by this community in a targeted and highly effective way resulting in a jump in market share from 3 to 15% and in brand awareness from 15 to 55%. (Kat, 2019)
With ever more Irish producers looking to new export markets, partly in response to Brexit, there is a need for these to ensure relevance to consumers in new markets. Food and drinks companies need to work hard to Understand the target market and differences in consumer needs, preferences and usage occasions Ensure that the value proposition is a good fit with consumers in a target market, adapting if not Evaluate ways to localise the product offering or activation in the marketplace to ensure relevance and optimise the opportunity
Bord Bia Consumer Lifestyle Trends. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.bordbiaconsumerlifestyletrends.ie/
Bowman, J. (2019). Hyper-local marketing boosts Pizza Hut | WARC. Retrieved from https://www.warc.com/content/article/event-reports/hyperlocal_marketing_boosts_pizza_hut/121611
Euromonitor. (2019). Locally Sourced: A Real Value Add or Just Original Spin?. Euromonitor.
Gillette | I Don't Roll on Shabbos. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wB4LOylFpEs
Kat, G. (2019). Gillette Deodorants: I Don't Roll On Shabbos | WARC. Retrieved from https://www.warc.com/SubscriberContent/article/warc-awards-media/gillette_deodorants_i_dont_roll_on_shabbos/123565
Martin, M. (2019). World's weirdest Kit Kat candy bars. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/worlds-weirdest-kit-kat-candy-bars/
Nestle. (2019). KITKAT in Japan - Local KITKAT. Retrieved from https://nestle.jp/brand/kit/inbound/en/gotouchi/