Food firms should ‘collaborate’ to meet consumer demand

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Hilton: ‘It takes a village to build a brand, and there’s got to be a joint effort involved’
Hilton: ‘It takes a village to build a brand, and there’s got to be a joint effort involved’

Related tags Material Manufacturing

Food and drink manufacturers and raw ingredients suppliers need to take a more collaborative approach to brand-building if they are going to meet rapidly-changing consumer demands, a US-based brand consultant has claimed.

Branded manufacturers should “raise their bar”​ and expect more from their suppliers – even if it means they have to pay more in the process – said Jeff Hilton, partner and chief marketing officer at Brandhive.

Hilton was speaking about the implications of the growing personalised healthcare trend for manufacturers and suppliers at Vitafoods Europe, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland this week (May 10–12).

He said: “It takes a village to build a brand, and there’s got to be a joint effort involved. I think raw materials suppliers have got to add value, and a more turnkey solution.

“When a raw material company goes to a branded manufacturer, they shouldn’t be just taking an ingredient for sale, they should be taking ingredient, the science behind it, and even some ideas on market positioning.”

Science-driven suppliers

According to Hilton, brand owners are looking for smart, science-driven ingredients suppliers to come in and say “we don’t just offer an ingredient, we can offer a package – here’s a prototype consumer ad, here’s a prototype packaging idea.

“Who knows the ideal market positioning of a product better than the ingredients supplier? I would suggest nobody, not even a sophisticated brand partner.”

Hilton claimed consumers were no longer “channel loyal”​ when purchasing products, meaning it didn’t make sense for food manufacturers to act in the same way.

Personalised healthcare trends

  • Huge rise in dispensing practitioners
  • Millennials have a unique take on health and wellness
  • Boomers are focusing on both longevity and quality of life
  • Product quality becoming ever-more important
  • Growing demand for clean-label and sustainable products

“My point is the consumer doesn’t shop in silos any more. For example, for products they are comfortable with, they are happy to shop online and look for the best price. But, for products they don’t fully understand, they might go to a health food store and ask for advice.

“As the lines between those channels are breaking down, food manufacturers must be willing to reach across those channels.

“We no longer recommend channel exclusive outreach for companies that supply ingredients. We believe the environment has got to be more partnership driven than channel driven.”

Manufacturer-retailer partnerships

Hilton also believed that manufacturer-retailer partnerships were the future.

“We are seeing branded manufacturers partnering with established retailers, or spa and fitness clubs and offering them a particular line.

“In sports nutrition, for example, you would think specialist healthcare sites would be dominant in that market, but it’s”

Consumers are actually using product reviews on the site to make their purchasing decisions, Hilton said.

“Therefore, every company we work with that sells directly online, we always recommend they flank that with Amazon distribution, because people just want to find you on there.

“If you’re going to sell directly to the consumer, you almost have to be there – just to support the people who won’t get to your site but still want your product.”

“The point here is that there are all kinds of ways that brand owners – whether you are a supplier of raw materials or whether you are a finished goods manufacturer – can partner with people that you didn’t know you could.”

Meanwhile, don’t miss our selection of top tweets​ from Europe’s largest ingredients show.

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