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Six mistakes Australian food manufacturers are making

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Michael Carp, the founder of baked goods brand Kez’s Kitchen, says local food manufacturers need to reassess their branding and product development if they’re to remain competitive and grow market share.

Carp said that while Australian consumers are becoming more patriotic with their shopping habits, manufacturers can do more to promote the fact that their products are Australian made.

“Consumers may well be more aware that ‘Australian made’ gives them the freshest shelf ingredients, supports local jobs, and helps the economy, but with customers being more committed to buying Australian made, local food brands risk becoming less active in their product development and marketing. Being ‘Australian made’ is only one factor among many that influences a customer’s choice to purchase, as well as a buyer’s decision to stock the product on shelves.”

Carp lists six common product and branding mistakes Australian made companies make:

1. They don’t offer anything different.Consumers look out for new products that will excite and engage them. “If ‘Australian made’ brands offer products that emulate many others produced locally, there’s little motivation for consumers to switch brands. They will go with a lower cost item or the one they’ve always been buying. Food businesses must remain innovative,” he said.  

2. They focus on price, not quality.Consumers don’t always go for the lowest price shelf item – and recent research that more Australians are buying locally made regardless of price, is proof, Carp said.“Businesses need to be less concerned about reducing shelf prices and instead focus on producing a product of high quality, with a unique point of difference. A quality product is one that incorporates the best ingredients, is high in taste and texture and sometimes even offers a health benefit.” 

3. They don’t work on their brand.If consumers and buyers know and trust a brand, they’re more likely to buy it. But these days, strong brands go further: they tell a story. Brands with a story can better engage customers, and create brand loyalty.“Many businesses have a great story but don’t tell it,” Carp said. “Ours is the growth of a biscuit business that my sister Kez began in my mum’s kitchen 23 years ago – and we take just as much pride in our products today. If food businesses don’t develop their brand image – whether they have a story or not – they’ll have a tough time reaching consumers, as major supermarkets will be less likely to stock their products. Strong brands can set a higher price and remain confident that buyers and consumers will purchase.” 

4. They don’t deliver on promises.If your brand and packaging makes bold statements about the products inside, you need to follow through. 

5. They don’t invest in packaging.While delivering on promises helps ensure repeat purchases, it’s the packaging that initially draws consumers in.“Packaging is the most visible part of a food business, and businesses need to invest in research, development and design of the packaging. The packaging is also the most important platform for telling your brand story.”  

6. They don’t adapt to change.Perhaps the easiest mistake is simply standing still, Carp said.“Not only are consumer needs and tastes changing, but competitors are getting better at what they’re offering. If you don’t adapt your brand and product you’ll be left behind. In a country as competitive as Australia, we need to get out of our comfort zones to continually improve.”

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