Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) has launched an exciting
initiative to provide world-class consumer insight to Scotland’s
farmers and small food producers, to help them compete more effectively
in the market.
The initiative is being delivered by SAC on behalf of the industry
leadership organisation Scotland Food and Drink, with funding support
from Scottish Enterprise.
The project will fund a PhD studentship
in the dunnhumby Academy of Consumer Research at Kent Business
School, University of Kent, where the student will be based for
the first six months before moving to Edinburgh for the remaining
two and half years of the studentship.
SAC Food Marketing Research team leader, Philip Leat, who is co-ordinator
of the initiative in Scotland explains the importance of consumer
information for Scotland's agri-food industry.
"In a new post-CAP reform era it’s more apparent to
everyone that success largely depends on having a good understanding
of your end customers. This is fully recognised and actively encouraged
by the Forward Strategy for Scottish Agriculture: Next Steps.
"Scotland’s food and drink industry has a great deal
to shout about, but the market is becoming increasingly competitive.
So it’s not just about shouting loudly and hoping that someone
is interested, it’s about getting the right products and
the right messages across to the right people. The dunnhumby data
will provide unique insights into consumer preferences and we are
really excited about the prospect of working with Scotland Food
and Drink to take this information to Scottish farmers and small
food producers and helping them to do an even better job.”
Farmers and small food producers will gain access to the dunnhumby
data through a series of workshops run in different locations throughout
Scotland over the next three years. The first two of these workshops,
held in Aberdeen in late September and early October, were fully
subscribed. The next workshop in the series is already planned
to take place in Aberdeen in January.
The dunnhumby Academy of Consumer Research, which is a partnership
between dunnhumby and Kent Business School, University of Kent,
was established in April 2005, with a mission to help farmers and
small food producers improve their businesses by developing a better
understanding of consumer preferences. The Academy currently has
ten PhD students, funded by the sector levy boards and regional
development agencies, analysing the dunnhumby data5 on behalf of
UK farmers and small food producers. The initiative in Scotland
is the first of its kind, representing a strategic partnership
between the public sector, academia and industry, for the benefit
of Scotland’s farmers and small food producers.
Examples of the benefits gained from the analysis undertaken by
the Academy to date include:
- An organic farmer who has gained insight into
different segments of consumers who buy different kinds of organic
food. This information is helping him develop a business plan
for a new market channel, home delivery.
- A potato farmer who has
developed a range of traditional potato varieties which he plans
to sell regionally through selected retail channels. Insights
into the different types of consumers that purchase regional
potatoes have enabled him to put together a marketing plan that
specifically targets consumer segments.
- A cheese co-operative that
has used information on the way different shoppers respond to
different speciality cheese promotions to prepare their own promotional
strategy in defence against competing cheeses from the continent.
soft fruit co-operative that has used the customer
data to improve the effectiveness of its marketing and promotional
campaigns for raspberries, thereby adding value to their sales
- A small speciality beef and pig farmer who
is building a home delivery business, has gained a better understanding
of the profile of shoppers who buy niche meat products so they
can target these and expand their business.
- A grain co-operative that has been considering the development of rapeseed cooking
oil used the shopper data to gain insights into the market for
speciality cooking oils.
Andrew Fearne is the Director of the dunnhumby Academy of Consumer
Research at Kent Business School:
“Farmers and small food producers with
whom we have engaged to date have benefited hugely from having
access to the dunnhumby data. The Academy provides ongoing access
to the information and the analytical capacity that very few
farmers and small food businesses have. The latter is essential
in order to turn information that is fascinating into a practical
input for more effective marketing and business planning decisions”
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