Recipes For Success: Serving Up Food Promotions
Whether free of fat, cholesterol, sugar and/or gluten or teeming with those substances plus other carbohydrates and protein sources, food items, no matter the diversity of their composition, will always serve as a unifier, as they do far more than sustain our bodies.
As the fourth quarter unfolds, provisions will prove even more multi-faceted, as family gatherings, social occasions and workplace celebrations will mark the holiday season.
While end-users will have eager stomachs as such events and other festivities approach, they will also have hungry hearts when pondering the prospects of chewing the fat with acquaintances. Although conceiving and executing food promotions plans are evergreen endeavors thanks to their nutritional considerations, this time of year lends itself to a craving for confirming our places in those aforementioned organs. Promo Marketing feasted on the chance to break bread with Fredrick Ostrom, founder and president of OSTROMbrands LLC, Dallas; and Sarah Hobson, vice president of sales and marketing for Webb Company, Eagan, Minn., to see how distributors can divvy up the bounty of goodwill that marks the rush to a new year.
Craving a Connection
In “A Room of One’s Own,” Virginia Woolf contended, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” With so many options available to curious consumers, it would seem no food promotion can ever end up half-baked, but industry figures cannot presume the public will gobble up their ideas just because everybody needs to eat. In fact, many presences stray from cooking up any concepts due to fearing the lack of a lasting impression will make them only the flavor of the day or week.
“It’s completely not true that people will forget them because of that,” Hobson said in allaying concerns over food creations’ roles as mental mainstays. “It’s true that consuming a product will keep it from being something we can inspect each day, but who is going to forget someone who thought enough of our needs to give us food, especially if it’s one of our favorites?”
She and her North Star State peers strive to make connections year-round, realizing any time can put them and others in the mix for securing a perennial partnership. In doing so, they are somewhat going against the grain, as she stated people often pigeonhole her 24-year-old employer as a supplier of mints and lip balm. In other words, she holds, if they can bolster their profile, anybody else should believe in the benefits of such latitude.
“Food gifts are not only used for the holidays, but frequently [are] used for incentive programs, destination theme gifts, welcome-home gifts, corporate events, etc.,” Ostrom said, reiterating the catchall qualities of calorie-fueled camaraderie. The Texas-situated businessman oversees five lifestyle brands and product categories through his brainchild, which he founded two years ago. The Le Zie component finds him marketing olive oil, pasta and kitchenware as a reflection of what his website calls “the Italian kitchen principles: quality, tradition, functionality and passion for food.”
The other lines call on him to offer leather goods and accessories; earphones, headphones and speakers; GPS tracking devices; and home textiles, but, as he posits, “Food is love.” And authentic brand stories and quality products make huge differences when companies consider incredible edibles as endowments.
Preparing Your Pitch
Promotional products industry figures are always analyzing trends so as to join (and even top) their counterparts in securing market shares. One such entity tasked with helping their efforts, the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), noted many significant finds this spring in addressing Americans’ dietary habits and preferences, and if one had to apply a theme to our affinities, “convenience” would be an apt selection. The work covers a year’s worth of eating practices among our ever-bulging population and makes plain that we cherish variety and enjoy experimenting as long as the results can thin our waistlines and even widen our social status. When conceiving food promotions, businesses could benefit from becoming fully aware of those established leanings, even if they find themselves hung up on the thought that the relationship will be a one-off possibility.
“Sure, there are those passing fancies, so to speak, but you don’t want to place yourself in the habit of thinking your connections need to be brief,” Hobson said. “People can also fall prey to thinking if they add tons of clients that it’s OK to miss a few chances to be their advocate because other customers can fill the void. Instead of thinking that way, pay attention to everyone.”
She noted that personal touch is a necessity when people implement food promotions, which Webb Company is intensifying itself, particularly by deciding to include candy bags in its drinkwear offerings. Hobson belongs to arguably the most coveted demographic, the millennial generation, which the IFT revealed is driving demand for specialty products across nontraditional channels, and stated her peers’ admiration for quality and perceived value has crossover appeal in the world of food promotions.
“We owe the enthusiasm for those concepts and add-on items to retail,” Hobson said. “There’s that huge focus on pleasing the customer, and that’s certainly also true in this industry, where you make great impressions for understanding exactly what people want.”
Enjoying Just Desserts
Whether food promotions constitute a significant portion of a company’s identity, have a burgeoning presence in its existence or have yet to take their seats at the table, a business could soon have a full plate or a more robust plan of action if its carves out a consistent approach to reaping the sector’s ample rewards.
“I believe a change in the corporate gift and incentive industry is ongoing where corporations today put more attention into searching for partner brands that can help strengthen, distinguish and elevate their brand and values,” Ostrom said.
“It’s a tremendous feeling when you can rely on your product line and wherewithal to attract repeat interest in your company,” Hobson added. “It’s also really amazing to take on new challenges, because it’s through them that you diversify your scope. Food promotions are a great way to accomplish both.”
For distributors to secure success in those food-fueled campaigns, Hobson said commonplace actions like sending samples and visuals will remain fruitful long after the pleasant aftertaste and immediate sensory satisfaction have gone, and that ideas and resources make excellent supplemental helpers. This month marks a bountiful period for Ostrom and his hires to take Hobson’s advice, as Le Zie’s harvest is occurring since its olives have ripened and turned from green to black and brown. Like his industry mates, however, he aims for year-round regard, and even though his food products do not count as treats, his marketing skills help him earn just desserts. He believes other businesses can likewise sate their quest for lip-smacking financials.
“Food is passion,” he said. “Today, more consumers are driven by an intense search for authenticity in their food. They want that sense that they are getting the real deal.”