Food & Beverage Marketing Strategy

September 11, 2018

In the last blog I discussed implementing change in the digital age. Things continue to change at a rapid pace. You need to stay ahead of the curve if you want to be successful. This all starts with developing a sales and marketing plan.

Whether you are new to the business or have been in business for many years, it’s important to understand your customer. It’s also important to have a plan.

I have spent over 30 years studying the food consumer. Families have changed and people have changed. Diversity and Inclusion is welcomed and accepted. These changes have created great food marketing opportunities.

Whether you are an on-premise or off-premise retailer, it’s important to understand these changes and others as they relate to your business. There is a very structured process that we go through when we do marketing planning. Planning helps answer the following questions:

  1. Who you are?
  2. What you do?
  3. How you are different?
  4. What problems you solve for the customer? (Basically why you are better?)

When we “sell” something, we tend to focus on the “who we are” and “what we do” when the consumer really cares about “how we are different” and “why we are better”. Regardless of the business you are in, the successful companies solve their customer’s problems better than their competition.

The plan begins with the external analysis. These are things that are outside of your control, but important to understand. Some categories that are important to all of us are political, legal, social, technology, environmental and the economy. You can get this information from many sources.

Competitive analysis comes next.

Who are your direct and indirect competitors? Don’t just look at the companies that “look” like yours. Look outside your category. Consider a great regional brand like Herr’s. They definitely compete with Frito Lay and Snyder’s in all channels. But in C-stores, they also compete with Tastykake and Hershey, since the consumer is typically going to buy a beverage and either a savory or sweet snack.

How do they compete? It might be new products, pricing, consumer or trade promotion or distribution.

Next, comes the internal analysis.

This is when you need to do an objective assessment of what is going on inside your business. Who are your customers? What are they buying? Where and when do the buy? How do they buy? Why do they buy?

It is important view this from your customers' viewpoint, not yours. This is where marketing research comes in. (You can do this on your own, or hire someone to do it for you)  

From this we develop a primary and secondary target market.

We conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis against our direct competitors for each target.

We then develop a marketing “position” for each target. (What do we want them to think when they hear our brand name)

And finally, we develop the marketing plan (Product, Price, Promotion and Place strategies)

We measure our success and adjust accordingly.


Marketing is a race with no finish line!

George Latella teaches Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Food Marketing which is the largest major at Saint Joseph’s University recently celebrated its 55th anniversary. George is also a partner in Beacon Marketing group which provides Marketing planning, research, and e-commerce/direct marketing communications for food and beverage companies. George can be reached at or 610-660-2254.

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