The Food and Drink sector has been a critical driver of growth in the Irish economy, from both an employment and export perspective.  In order for the sector to continue to thrive it needs to build and maintain successful brands.  However, many brands, particularly smaller food producers do not have access to the significant research budgets that allow them to understand their brand’s health and to identify opportunities based on solid market understanding.  Moreover many solutions for understanding a brand’s health lack relevance as they are often based on normative comparisons from larger businesses or worse still comparisons with overseas brands.

In recognition of this, Bord Bia through its Brand Forum initiative announced the launch of its Syndicated Brand Health Service in March 2012 in order to allow such businesses to access Brand Health research previously out of reach, for a subsidised rate.  Following its success in year one, they offered this service again in each of the past few years and in each year demand for the service grew and the uptake among Bord Bia’s client companies has increased.

In developing its solution, REC C devised an online study that addressed these requirements of the programme.  Beyond this a number of extra elements were delivered including a single number “Brand Pulse Score” as an overall Brand Health metric as well as producing a bespoke report for each client company who signed up for the service and an interactive excel database tool to allow for comparison against relevant normative data on all key measures.  All of this was provided to client companies at low cost, due to an efficient design and a small subsidy from Bord Bia. This is a fraction of the cost that would be required for any individual brand to commission a project of this scale themselves of course.

The uptake from Bord Bia’s client base was phenomenal.  Including both Bord Bia client company brand and those of their nominated competitors, we have collected valuable brand health data on a total of over n=500 grocery brands in Ireland.  The comprehensive coverage allowed for the development of an impressive database of normative scores across the grocery sector in Ireland with n=51 grocery categories represented in total.  In total we have conducted over n=9,000 interviews in the compilation of this data.

The database of these KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) across this range of brands and sectors represents the most comprehensive and largest databases of grocery brand performance available and this is now accessible to Bord Bia client companies. The success of this benchmarking phase has been phenomenal and Bord Bia is currently planning to roll this out further in 2013 as part of their support package for Irish food brands

The key outputs resulting from this ambitious programme included client-specific reports with benchmarks provided against peer brands within their sector as well as against overall grocery norms.  In addition to this type of assessment on all core metrics a number of additional brand analytics were included in the presentation packs such as correspondence mapping to show brand imagery and positioning, brand momentum pyramids and a brand salience and commitment visualisation.

With such a wealth of data and an unrivalled breadth of brand representation we were able to build a model of brand health in a “one number score” called BPS or Brand Pulse Score.  The relative contribution of each of these metrics is based on their contribution to that brands success using PRAM analysis; a drivers modelling approach.  The component metrics are fused into three key elements; Experience, Dedication and Equity before being summarised further using a weighting algorithm to create a single BPS score.

The organisational currency of a single score of this nature is compelling and intuitive and it provides an invaluable snapshot of a brands relative position against its rivals and the overall branded grocery sector.  Again, leveraging the power of the database allows for both “within sector” and “within grocery” benchmarking

With each client company receiving a bespoke report and strategic guidance the industry impact was significant and the feedback was incredibly positive.  At a wider level this initiative has added considerably to the body of knowledge in relation to top grocery brands across the Irish market to help steer public policy in relation to this sector and in ensuring that this sector continues to drive economic growth into the future.

“For Denny, the Brand Health Check reinforced a particular area that we were looking at on our brand. We used the Brand health check as the stepping stone to a large scale piece of research on the brand. It was useful to be able to bench mark your portfolio against benchmark brands in your category and also to have the flexibility to add in specific questions you wanted to get a read on.  The sessions to interpret and analyse the report with OI Research were particularly useful.”  – Hilary Hughes, Brand Manager, Kerry Foods.

“In addition to allowing companies an  insightful and cost effective brand analysis a bespoke report identifying issues and opportunities for their brand within their respective category. For some companies this is the only quantitative research that they will carry out in a given year which highlights the importance of the work.” – Niamh Mac Hale, Bord Bia