Conor Hyde of Bullseye Marketing tells AgriLand about brand Ireland and our unique agri-food industry.

As managing director of one of Ireland’s leading food marketing companies, Hyde is acutely aware of the importance of targeted food marketing training and support. In fact, Hyde says preparation and up-skilling are vital to ensuring your fledgling food business gets off the ground and continues flying. And when it comes to establishing an artisan food business, Hyde says an entrepreneur’s level of preparation and appropriate training can never be underestimated.

“Anyone considering a new food business idea, or hoping to develop an existing one, needs to recognise that targeted marketing training and support is crucial at this vital stage of the business development ‘life cycle’.

“Statistics show that 60 per cent of all start-ups fail within three years, with half of start-ups failing within the first 12 months. These are startling statistics and research frequently highlights how most of these businesses fail due to a lack of planning.

“There’s an enormous ‘buzz’ surrounding the Irish food sector, and in particular, Irish artisan food products. In a way, it’s like going back to the Eighties. People have to eat and food is our biggest indigenous industry. In fact, it’s estimated that there are 150,000 people employed in the wider food sector in Ireland.

“There are certainly growing opportunities for ambitious food entrepreneurs but the question is how to brand and market your food product effectively, how to understand budgets and finance and how to create successful business and marketing plans.

According to Hyde, digital media is an excellent marketing tool for food producers on a tight budget. “By using social media in a professional and strategic manner small food companies can have a huge impact on their target consumer market. For very little budget spend small food companies can orchestrate a very impactful marketing campaign online through social media applications such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn,” he says.

This form of marketing can be time consuming but the returns are worth it, he adds.

“At the moment we are engaged on a four-month social media campaign for O’Egg liquid egg in a bottle and we are seeing some amazing consumer reaction online that we can quantify,” he explains.

“Last week alone we have more than 50,000 target consumers talking online about the product as a result of the social media activity. For very little spend, other than time and manpower, we can touch hundreds of thousands of target consumers over a four-month period,” says Hyde.

Ireland’s food industry continues to be one of the star performers leading the country’s economic recovery. In 2012 Irish food exports exceeded €9bn for the first time. However, only 40 per cent of those exports are branded, value-added products, according to Hyde. 

Hyde underlines the importance of growing Irish brands in France and around the world.

“Irish food exporters have a huge opportunity to develop brand recognition in the French market. When it comes to food, France is one of the world’s most mature, sophisticated and discerning consumer markets. If we can develop strong, recognisable Irish brands in France, it opens up the potential to bring these brands right across Europe and around the globe.”

France is also home to some of the world’s largest retailers including Carrefour, the world’s 2nd largest supermarket group, and other major industry players such as Auchant and Casino. Building relationships with these global organisations opens up huge opportunities for Irish food producers.”

Hyde also highlighted the importance of developing much stronger brand identities to differentiate products, improve traceability and provide a basis for long-term sustainable growth.

“While Ireland has some of the best fresh meat and seafood products in the world, we need to focus on growing or brands at home and abroad. Value-added, branded exports mean we generate more income for our farmers, producers and manufacturers. It means the creation of jobs right across the country and a boost for the Irish exchequer. Strong, reliable, trusted brands also give customers confidence, improve traceability and create long-term brand loyalty that provide the foundations for long-term sustainable growth,” Hyde concludes.