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Point of View: Seafood brands: Out of step and missing out

If we apply the purest definition, an effective brand accurately and efficiently represents the reputation that a company and its products enjoy. For truly powerful and enduring brands, they are also described as trusted, reliable and preferred. - By Jeffrey Spear
by Jeffrey Spear
June 05, 2012

If we apply the purest definition, an effective brand accurately and efficiently represents the reputation that a company and its products enjoy. For truly powerful and enduring brands, they are also described as trusted, reliable and preferred.

Understanding that the seafood industry is well established and that individual operators enjoy strong reputations, it would seem only logical to assume that there are strong seafood brands dominating the category. To the contrary, and in both wholesale (trade) and retail (consumer) environments, brand building is frequently misunderstood, poorly managed and underutilized.

All you need to do is walk the International Boston Seafood Show, then wander the aisles in your neighborhood supermarket. While you may see a few recognizable names, there is an overwhelming shortage of visible, memorable and compelling brand presentations. The number of products that go unrecognized, as well as the community of seafood producers who willingly endure quiet anonymity, is stunning. 

In addition, and recognizing that foodservice represents a significant percentage of overall revenues, seafood products are rarely, if ever, described by brand at the point of sale.  

From a marketing perspective, this represents untapped opportunities in just about every sales channel. For brand owners seriously pursuing growth, this is a dream come true.   

For some, the process of selling seafood is strictly a function of numbers; species are commodities that can only be sold with the lowest price. Fortunately, other qualities including freshness, flavor, aroma and overall integrity of product along with efficient customer service, recipe innovation, category knowledge and responsiveness are also important.

When it comes to brand building, the majority of promotional activities fail to communicate and/or champion these attributes with any degree of clarity or finesse. Statements such as “we generate profits” or “customers will run to your store” are generic and uninspired. If the audience can say “I should hope so,” then something more is needed.   

One of the most obvious opportunities for impact is infusing your offer with emotionally stimulating, engaging and memorable content. It is statistically proven that, when emotions are triggered in a marketing context, the potential for sales impact increases significantly. It takes leadership to embrace these ideas. And leadership is not without some degree of risk. Accordingly, here are five essential elements of effective brand building that will help you overcome obstacles in pursuit of your growth agenda: Conduct Research; What’s In It For Me?; Be Visible; Excite the Senses; and Be Remarkable.

Brand building in the seafood industry is in its infancy and has a long way to go. Sadly, there are plenty of operators who are satisfied with their achievements and are willing to keep things just the way they are. For those who are energized, visionary, enthusiastic and interested in category leadership, the opportunities for effective branding and enterprise growth are enormous. 

Jeffrey Spear provides strategic and creative direction for Studio Spear, a global marketing consultancy specializing in the food, beverage and ingredients industries, which can be found at www.studiospear.com.  

June 2012 - SeaFood Business 

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