Can your customers easily articulate why they choose your products over the competition? If not, it may be time to re-evaluate how you’re positioning your company’s value proposition to food industry customers.
Brand and product differentiation are paramount to succeeding in food industry sales for a variety of reasons. If you want to stand out from the myriad of companies and products bombarding large national brands and asking for their time, you must have a point of differentiation that grabs their attention and meets a need. I’ve seen a great deal of companies say something to the effect that customers should buy from them because they have great quality products, or they are a global organization. To that I say – “So what?” There are lots of global companies with great products. What make yours different? How do we dig a level or two deeper to find out what really makes you special and unique, and then how do we pull that through in all our communications?
Think about this in your own personal life. What brands and products do you associate yourself with? For instance, I really like this line of clothing where everything, including business shirts, pants and suits are dry-fit and machine washable. The example might be a bit silly, however it meets a variety of my needs around comfort, fit, flexibility, and the dry-fit attributes throughout long days of travel and customer meetings. This company knows who they are and continue to produce products that are high-end but carry through that approach.
What is that thing you know in your heart you can do better than all your competitors? A great understanding of your value proposition is key to a strong overall foodservice strategy. Here are some questions you should be asking yourself about your company and products:
What unique product quality or product attributes do you have over your competitors? Perhaps you both make products in a similar category, but you really excel in one area and consistently outperform them.
Do you have a slightly differentiated offering that other companies do not? Is that enough of a difference to talk about? If yes, and they want that product with that performance they must buy from you!
Is there something around the processing of your products that gives you a better advantage? Perhaps you use a unique manufacturing method that gives your products better texture, flavor, shelf life, stability, color, etc.?
Do you have a branded product? If yes, is that brand a benefit to the customer and why? Or are you really hoping for the customer’s brand to help yours?
Are you innovative and flexible? Some companies are very good at up front innovation. They can turn samples around quickly and they can really use speed to their advantage. Other companies are slow as molasses! If you are slower, perhaps you have a significant option on the back end and can really scale up products well and are excellent at handling volume.
What sort of supply chain advantages might you have, and how does that ultimately support the customer’s goals? Do you have access and control of raw materials in a way that others may not, or do your production locations allow for strategic advantages?
How will your marketing and consumer insights stack up compared to the competition? Do you have industry leading insights and an ability to turn that into products that make sense for your customer and your capabilities?
Do you have world-class applications?
What other supporting resources might you have that you think are simple but could make a huge difference to the customer?
Notice I didn’t ask, “Do you have the lowest price?” Differentiating on price isn’t a long-term proposition because you’re essentially making yourself a commodity, and your relationships will become transactional. Price is different than strategic supply and manufacturing advantages, which are important to call out in addition to other key points of difference.
In a perfect world, this differentiation that you discover about your company and your products matters to the customer or helps you refine customer targets. As stated above, a strong value proposition is a key part of a great customer focused strategy. Asking yourself these questions will help get you dialed in to communicating why customers should choose you over your competitors!