Building a seafood marketing plan

Translating industry's thoughts about marketing into action that will add value to Australia’s seafood harvest is one of the next big challenges for the FRDC

The FRDC is embarking on its largest ever industry engagement program to find out what type of market activities the fisheries and seafood industry want.

Peter Horvat, manager of communications, trade and marketing for the FRDC says this means understanding the long-term aspirations of businesses and of the industry as a whole as well as identifying priorities. What is the industry ultimately prepared to invest for marketing its seafood and products?

“The FRDC will spend the next six months gathering the industry’s views,” Peter Horvat says. “We want to hear what fishers and farmers want and we welcome their input in any way they want to provide it, whether it is face to face when we are out visiting, over the phone or sent to us as a hand-written note or email.

“We have also added a new section to the FRDC website built for the marketing engagement process, to allow people to comment online.”

The FRDC has established a Marketing Function Advisory Committee and has engaged two external companies, Sefton & Associates and Collabforge, to assist. Both bring a high level of expertise to the project team – Sefton & Associates has extensive experience with the primary-industries sectors and has worked with research development organisations on some of their marketing and levies programs. Collabforge brings a high level of technical expertise in collaboration and communication engagement tools.

The industry views will form the foundations of a marketing business plan that will encompass broader market issues that apply to all sectors, such as supply chains, market data and how to fund market activities. The plan will also encompass specific industry-sector needs such as product awareness. ‘Love Australian Prawns’ is a successful example of a product awareness campaign.

The FRDC wants to build a long-term platform for industry marketing.

The platform should ensure any marketing investment is:

  • overseen with strong governance;
  • strategically focused;
  • disciplined in approach;
  • based on solid market information;
  • able to quantify its success;
  • strongly linked to enterprise level investment; and
  • evaluated and monitored regularly and consistently.

Engagement process

The FRDC has a goal of engaging with as many industry sectors as possible to gain their views. To achieve this, a four-stage process will be used.

  • The first stage will work with the Marketing Function Advisory Committee to obtain its input on the engagement process and to fine-tune it, to make it as effective as possible.
  • Stage two will be to work with several key stakeholder groups who have already begun some marketing initiatives, so that lessons can be learned from their experiences. These groups include the Australian prawn farmers and fishers and Barramundi farmers, abalone industry and rocklobster groups. In addition, the FRDC will identify some cross-sector groups such as the wholesale markets and cooperatives to gain some broader views.
  • During stage three, the FRDC will use market research to gather opinions from about 300 key seafood companies and licence holders.
  • Stage four will run in parallel with stage three and will see the FRDC staff talking to industry at all levels, from fishers right through to including industry councils, whenever possible (meetings, phone calls and emails).

“The reality is that any marketing activity the FRDC undertakes will be in response to and driven by industry,” Peter Horvat says.

“Our job is to ensure that we have in place the systems to make informed decisions about what will work best and then measure the results. Several sectors, prawns, abalone, rocklobster and oysters (see 'Retail trials add spark to oyster sales'), have undertaken marketing activity so far. They have primarily focused on improving awareness and sales.

“One of the key findings has been that measuring the success of their marketing has been difficult because at present there isn’t enough market data. The Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre has undertaken specific research for the sectors, which has been vital for the initial work. However, in the long term, industry will need an ongoing good stream of market and consumer research and intelligence to help us make the best decisions possible”.

Building the system

A key long-term requirement for any marketing activity is to gain a baseline of consumer and market data and knowledge.

This includes production volumes, sale prices along the supply chain, and customer preferences, such as what they want, when they want it, how much they will pay for it and, most importantly, what motivates them to purchase a seafood product.

The infrastructure and marketing system does not need to be complex. At present, the FRDC is working on three areas: market data, evaluation and funding approaches.

The illustration on page 16 provides a simple view of the type of market and consumer data the FRDC aims to map. The FRDC is researching how industry can get accurate real-time sales (market) data.

The study is expected to be completed by the end of September and will provide an overview of what is currently available, where there are gaps in the data, as well as suggested approaches for getting any additional data that is required.

Peter Horvat says further down the track, sectors will need to consider adding to this data with some targeted ‘consumer insight’ research that will help understand the views held for seafood products.

The ‘Love Australian Prawns’ campaign is a good example of where targeted research and data collection worked well.

The research showed that consumers loved Australian prawns and saw them as having a special place on their menu – a treat for special occasions. Preserving that sense of ‘something special’ was important to consumers.

Brand Council, the agency engaged by the prawn fishers and farmers to create the campaign, used this insight to not only build the campaign but to also design an iconic symbol that was prominently displayed at more than 400 seafood retail stores and many hundreds of Woolworths supermarkets across the country.

As well as understanding consumers’ views, it is also important to develop a solid evaluation method for marketing activities.

The approach that needs to be used will largely depend on the type of marketing. For example, for a campaign solely focused on increasing sales volume, sales data will provide a good indication of success.

However, activities that aim to improve the consumers’ perception will be much harder to evaluate. The FRDC is looking to develop a suite of evaluation tools that industry can use for these purposes.

Questions of concern within the industry will be who pays for these marketing activities, and how to collect the funds. Answering these questions will take a considerable amount of thought and the FRDC is keen to hear industry views.

Marketing Function Advisory Committee

Undertaking an extensive engagement program requires not only good planning but also good industry knowledge and support. The FRDC will coordinate a group of industry representatives to assist with this.

The Marketing Function Advisory Committee brings together individuals who represent producers (licence holders and fishers), companies (small to large), sectors and representatives of the supply chain.

The committee will help the FRDC to refine and implement the stakeholder engagement strategy.

Members of the committee are:

  • Brett McCallum – Pearl Producers Association;
  • Tim Hess – Petuna Sealord;
  • Arthur Raptis – Arthur Raptis and Sons;
  • Peter Fare – Sarin Group;
  • Nathan Maxwell-McGinn – Craig Mostyn Group;
  • Gus Dannoun – Sydney Fish Market;
  • Anthony Ciconte – Commonwealth Fisheries Association;
  • Andrew Puglisi – Kinkawooka;
  • Jules Crocker – Joto Fresh;
  • Shane Geary – Coffs Harbour Fisherman’s Co-operative;
  • John Susman – Fishtales;
  • Sam Gordon – Blue Harvest;
  • Jonas Woolford – Wildfish South Australia;
  • David Caracciolo – NT Fish;
  • Rachel King – Oysters Australia;
  • Katherine Winchester – Northern Territory Seafood Industry Council and National Seafood Industry Alliance;
  • Dallas D’Silva – VRFish; and
  • Anthony Mercer – De Costi Seafoods.

Have your say

The FRDC wants to hear from the whole industry on what the key issues are.

Over the coming months, the FRDC will be out and about visiting many sectors and individuals.

If you are keen to let us know what you think sooner or to get some more information visit the FRDC Marketing site.

More information

Peter Horvat, 02 6285 0400