Brexit Britain: British food & drink brands are taking back control

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Brexit is having a major impact on food and drink brands as international trade hangs in the balance and domestic sales suffer under penny pinched consumers. But if they act fast and take control, they can turn an advantage, perhaps even getting a head start.

We know Brand Britain with our offshore siblings is more than a little bruised, but the domestic love is still strong. We’ve seen a number of independent food and drink producers making headway with their marketing and particularly in their brand activation. Why? Because the discerning consumer is seeking out authentic artisan brands with a story to tell and a local flavour to sample.

It’s no coincidence IPA’s are gaining market share, online food markets are swelling with artisan produce, leading retailers are stocking local. Domestic ingredients, terroir and authenticity are driving the growth in smaller, premium drinks brands as identified in the latest report from the IWSA.

How to get going?

Empower your brand. There are alternative distribution channels. Online markets such as Discover Delicious, Farmdrop and Abel & Cole are all increasing their footprint, and their brands are having a clear impact on consumer sentiment. You can read more about how we launched the online marketplace Discover Delicious here.

Go direct. Distribution is so much easier to coordinate these days, particularly for ambient produce, and fresh delivery and drop ship partnerships do exist. Build and promote your online shops, utilise Amazon and Google. Put some money behind the media and develop some compelling content to help drive traffic. You can test your programme by showcasing one or two hero products. Volume is scalable, and will be directly linked to the quality of your content and the media you utilise to push it.

Drench your brand in social. It’s quicker to win hearts and minds through social media than any other channel. You’ll need an influencer programme to build advocacy, and you’ll need some money for content and paid media - even organic content requires a little nudge to get going. You can use the same strategy to geo-target your promotions and push sampling. For content, think provenance, authenticity and sustainability. These are the principles that resonate closest with millennial and Gen Z (born between 1997-2015) audiences. And they’re the ones actively switching out from household names.

Partner up. Finding and bundling up similar products works really well, and can open up new opportunities for sampling. Don’t just leave it to the retailers. We've seen first hand brands like Laithwaites Wine, Hotel Chocolat and Pong Cheese do it in a very clever way, that end up building loyalty with their customers. Find some shrewd partners, share your data and open up some new consumer opportunities.

Be charitable. We're not talking about greenwashing, we are talking about some good, wholesome, well intended, make a difference type stuff. You can align your brand with a charity that’s relevant to what you do, and one that you’re passionate about. By sharing the love, you share your story, and people flock to authentic brands that deliver on their promise. Ugly Drinks, Pukka Herbs and Lush do this particularly well, and that means they sell product at the same time as making real social strides. Karma does pay.

If you’re a British brand with British connections, now is the time to get your marketing on the front foot. There’s no point sitting around worrying - or hoping! Affirmative action and a well placed plan will open the doors.

Saman Mansourpour is managing director of AgencyUK

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