The English have a special relationship with the countryside. Our view of farm produce, organics and the farmers market conjures up an illusion of rolling hills, farmyard animals and a wholesome farmer complete with green willies and cap.
Pork Farms have long enjoyed this positive brand association with the countryside, their products perceived as wholesome and originating from the farmyard and full of country goodness.
However in the late 90’s its market shifted. Squeezed wages, retail consolidation and intense competition for the lunch occasion changed market sentiment. On the hoof convenience foods were dominating the urban lunchtime with Pork Farms having to compete in a frenetic race to offer the consumer convenience and value-for-money.
Pork farms realised they had to innovate if they were going to evade their increasingly difficult to sustain ‘value’ positioning and achieve grow long-term. Their quality product heritage was being over-looked by consumers and under-utilised internally within strategic innovation. Moreover, the brand identity as expressed particularly by the brand packaging was negating the opportunity for it’s heritage and quality equities to positively influence the consumer.
Our role was to find ways to re-frame the concept of healthy on-the-go meal occasions, providing headroom for Pork Farms to create a new platform to re-assert it’s authenticity and heritage thereby protecting the brands hard won quality associations.
Extensive research and insight work confirmed the clear association of rural farmyards with quality, freshness and goodness. Furthermore Pork Farms had won a number of prestigious awards which could further enhance these associations.
Our insight work teased out the specific positive nuances that could be owned by Pork Farms linking its heritage to direct consumer benefits of taste, health, freshness and quality. This represented a shifting of emphasis away from price –cutting and other defensive strategies to re-establishing a new dialogue with retailers and consumers based on the value of wholesome and health on-the-go lunches. In particular the packaging was revised to reflect the strategy shift with on-pack promotions limited to those supporting the quality proposition.
Distribution and shelf presence in this market was key. The first win came from increased shelf distribution and on-shelf awareness of the new brand identity. This allowed Pork Farms to strengthen its channel support, and continue to defend its position in what is normally a highly price sensitive and competitive market. Renewed growth was only a matter of time.