How seizing opportunities can maximise market research efforts

In a perfect world, most – if not all – businesses would market-test a new product or service before releasing it to their target audiences. For many however, the reality is that market research is cost prohibitive and can add unwanted time to already challenging launch schedules.

This is especially true for qualitative research methods where participants need to be profiled, sourced, recruited, and spoken to, and results processed and analysed by a person rather than a computer. There is hope however – and sometimes combining a traditional approach with unconventional opportunities can deliver powerful insights.

Posh Food’s appetite for new market

The Measured Marketer (TMM) has had the privilege to work with fantastic Australian food manufacturer Posh Foods (www.poshfoods.com.au) who have been producing a range of fresh pies, sausage rolls, quiches, filos, and lasagnes, as well as hand-made pates in their Sydney-based factory for more than 25 years. With this proven track record in production, the next generation of Posh Foods management identified an opportunity to take their popular wholesale pate into the retail market under the brand and packaged product line ‘Posh Pate™’.

Retail venture slow to boil

Despite the proven popularity of the wholesale recipe, the initial retail expansion did not quite take off. The retail pate market in Australia is a hugely-niche product category and the market is polarised – people either love it or they hate it. Pate has suffered from a range of challenges in its Australian history including bad publicity, a poor understanding of how it is made, health scares, inexperience with offal, and inferior product offerings. To further compound the issues, Australian cooking icon Maggie Beer has a range of pates putting all new entrants head-to-head with the ultimate brand ambassador.

Market stall serves valuable insights

Posh Pate™ were passionate about understanding what may have hindered their initial success, however were on a tight budget and timeframe in the lead up to a proposed relaunch. Working together, TMM and Posh Pate came up with an approach which took advantage a stall the Posh Pate™ team had booked at the Cheese Lovers Festival in Centennial Parklands Sydney. This event attracts cheese and fine food purveyors from around NSW and beyond, and approximately 4,500 members of the public attend the festival each year.

Event at the heart of market research strategy

By placing this event at the heart of the market research approach, TMM was able to:

  • maximise the ability to recruit participants without the cost of a recruitment agency
  • select participants randomly and screen them on site to ensure a broad mix of demographics
  • conduct all of the discussions on a single day
  • remove the expense associated with hiring facilities and organising catering
  • provide a flexible format, where groups could range from mini-groups to full sized focus groups, start at different times on the day, and run for different lengths of time depending on participant availability
  • provide a relaxed environment, conducive to discussing a product category naturally associated with entertainment, picnics, socialising, wine and cheese
  • have Posh Pate™ samples on hand for participants to taste.

TMM Managing Director Jacqui Daley at the Cheese Lovers Festival in Sydney, where participants were recruited to give feedback on Posh Pate.

TMM was aware of the potential bias using an event which was targeted to like-minded individuals with an interest in cheese and fine foods. The location in the Eastern Suburbs also meant a certain socio-economic background would be overly-represented. However, given the niche product category, its relationship with cheese boards and entertaining, and the need to screen-out outright rejectors of Pate, in this instance the bias was seen as a positive. It allowed the research to easily find and speak to those most likely to consume the product. To see some images of this activity in action click here.

What did the Pate Chit Chat uncover?

This approach delivered a range of outcomes and benefits including:

  • a detailed understanding of the retail pate space
  • guidance on how to best position the product to target audiences
  • direction for updated branding and packaging
  • input into the style of imagery required to appeal to ‘foodies’ and the younger market
  • an approach for a dedicated Posh Pate™ website
  • input into future product development.

The final market research ingredients

This activity was supplemented with desk research to explore the pate market in Australia which involved sourcing industry and government data on fine food categories, reviewing competitor websites, social media channels and packaging, and conducting an audit of existing marketing and promotional assets. A workshop with the Posh Pate team detailed key challenges and barriers which impacted on the success of the initial retail expansion.

TMM’s market insights strategy attracts industry award

In October 2019, the approach outlined was awarded the NSW State Award in the Market and Consumer Insights category of the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) Awards. For a small project, on a limited budget, TMM was humbled to sit alongside organisations from both NSW (and other states for their respective state awards) such as Simplot, the University of South Australia, Deakin University, the Financial Planning Association of Australia, and Queensland Health. TMM also thanks the Posh Pate™ team for their willingness to seize opportunities in order to hear directly from their target markets.

Think some discovery about your company, competitors, and consumers could assist you to generate growth and acquisition? Contact TMM today to discuss how we can help.