Hotel Professionals

Marketing in the Food and Beverage Industry.

food-wine

Experienced marketing professionals know well how important it is to maintain the profile of a product even if the reputation happens to be excellent.

Every product has a life cycle. Some enjoy longer cycles than others. Regardless, marketers must continuously monitor the performance of any brand and undertake necessary steps to maintain sales and hopefully even surpass previous years results.

Statistics show that even the best-known brands of consumer products lose five per cent market share per annum, if marketing efforts cease. Marketing professionals work hard to maintain their market share and hope to expand it all the time.

Another important factor in product development to monitor markets and determine needs as the story of Irish Cream proves. It was borne out of necessarily, but found an eager market and with a little positioning Irish Cream has become one of the most successful liqueur brands ever.

In the 1980’s Ireland had a surplus of cream and whiskey. Distillers decided to combat it with a product that used both and a little flavouring agent. The problem was that the product separated in the bottle over time. It had to be stabilized. Scientists eventually solved the problem and a worldwide marketing campaign solidified sales.

To date, Irish Cream remains one of the most popular cream liqueurs, and actually attracted many other producers to invent their own versions.

Similarly, Scotch whisky marketers learned a very expensive lesson by neglecting marketing efforts, and realized how sales have declined. They had paid scant attention to the growing youth segment of the European market for their entry level, profitable blended whiskies. It took a long time and millions of dollars to regain it.

Vodka was practically an obscure liquor category before World War II. When Brown-Foreman purchased the rights to producing and marketing Smirnoff vodka from the family in Paris, the brand was virtually unknown in the west, and particularly in the U.S.A. The marketing genius of Brown-Foreman made the brand one of the best vodka brands and in fact introduced the category in the market place. Today vodka sales outstrip all other liquor categories in North America and the category is inundated with vodka brands from entry level to super luxury.

Restaurant or pub marketing is no different. It requires constant monitoring to determine changes in eating and drinking habits, pricing, service, and ambience.

What was successful 20 years ago may no longer appeal to the dining out public. The older clientele may prefer to entertain at home, or not at all, and the younger generation acquires different tastes. This is particularly true in North America.

Around 1970’s quiche, muffins, and carrot cake were all the rage, and then came croissants, and cheesecake.

Eventually people tried out nouvelle cuisine, and even cuisine minceur, but quickly decided against both. Astute young chefs started experimenting with fusion cuisine to create a buzz amongst the dining out public. This caught the attention of the well-travelled, well-educated, well-heeled and gastronomically adventurous younger generation.

American marketers soon discovered that the public enjoyed conversing with entertaining chefs at their table. They simply wanted to see that the chef de cuisine was a friendly and personable.

European chefs were and some still are notorious for being temperamental and gruff.

Chefs in conversation with guests were quick to recognize how important plate presentation had become and started to pay particular attention to imaginative and colourful food presentation.

Service also had to be spruced up. People simply don’t want to spend more than one-and-a-half to one-and-three-quarters of hours at the table, except in rare circumstances and occasions.

Now gueridon service, and French service are things of the distant past. Plate service with flair is in and might stay popular for a long time to come, at least in North America and maybe even in industrialized western countries. It is less expensive and quick to boot.

Europeans on the other hand, at least in fine restaurants, still enjoy leisurely dinners, but fewer can afford the expenses associated with elaborate service.

Light food is in. Fish is now in demand, more than ever. Unusual foods are becoming more appealing. Ostrich, elk, caribou, lamb, and wild rice are only some of them.

When it comes to wine, preferences changed noticeably. French wines were the best sellers, but today Australians, South Africans, Chileans and Americans are challenging them.

Ontario wineries have made great efforts and successfully turned around their collective fortunes particularly after NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) that gave preference to Canadian beers over wine.

People want instant gratification and wines that are up front and make a big impression with the first sip are winners. New World wineries understand this well and make impressive wines to expand their market share worldwide.

Also, prices are important.

With the exception of some California products New World wine prices tend to be considerably less than their French, German and even Italian counterparts.

Big name European red wines require long maturing, and young people simply don’t want to wait for years to enjoy a particular wine. This gave impetus to wine auctions that offer old, ready-to-drink Bordeaux, German beerenauslese or trockenbeerenauslese wines Burgundy, and Port wines.

In London, Sotheby’s and others in the business made fortunes auctioning old vintages, and even opened subsidiaries in New York, Chicago, and Hong Kong.

Packaging and labels have become important marketing tools. Marketers spend considerable time, effort and funds to create packaging commensurate with the image of the product.

Cognac-, Scotch whisky distillers and some Bordeaux chateaux use marketing, bottle- and label design to maximize their appeal.

New World wineries are equally aware of the importance of packaging and even commission companies specializing in label design to create just the right image.

At the end of a product cycle, changes may have to be made or market shifts may require emphasis on one or more aspects of the product.

Only a few years ago North American business hotels rarely offered swimming pools, exercise rooms, business centers, computer portals, IT connectivity, in-room movies, just to name a few services that business hotels must offer to remain successful and profitable.

These are changes that require concerted efforts to articulate, formulate and implement. Advertising the new product then becomes an important communication tool to maintain market share.

Similarly, beverage sales in hotels, marketers must understand that selling a product to the food and beverage manager is only the first step. The most important part of moving the product is to get servers to suggest it, and in order for them to do it all the time they must know enough about it, taste it, and be convinced that they can recommend it confidently.

Also, important is to inform all servers how to suggest, and to whom to suggest.

Marketing in an ever-changing environment requires the attention of all restaurateurs, publicans, bar owners, hoteliers, distillers, brewers and wineries. Those with good market intelligence and judgment will be more successful than their slow competitors.

Hrayr Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.

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