With more RAS producers coming into the fold and starting to bring their products to their end consumers, the focus is now turning to branding and marketing.
Developing strategies for getting RAS-raised seafood to market and developing a consistent market demand – even a steady consumer following – will be the next big challenge for RAS producers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the need – and the advantages – for producers to think about the end consumers and how to win them over. With the restaurant and hotel industries negatively impacted by business closures, a significant segment of the market for seafood producers had suddenly disappeared, forcing them to rethink their post-harvest strategies of getting their products to market. From investing in vertical integration and post-harvest processing, to developing a retail strategy that was previously non-existent, these were some of the lessons that many aquaculture producers have had to learn over the course of less than a year.
Having a retail strategy, however, is not just about getting your products on the shelves of supermarkets and farmers’ markets. It’s about getting people to buy them, over and over.
A strategic branding and marketing plan can make or break your product. The seafood aisle of the grocery store can get really crowded, and standing out from the pack will be the objective of the marketing plan.
If recent consumer behaviour studies are any indication, you’ll need more than a catchy tagline to build a consumer following. It’s about telling a story that compels your market to action.
We had the privilege of interviewing one of the industry’s renowned sustainable seafood advocates and market strategists, Jennifer Bushman, at a recent RAS Talk episode, which I co-host with Freshwater Institute director Brian Vinci. Bushman outlined some simple, yet impactful, ways that producers can reach and influence consumers. We highlight some excerpts from that interview on page 32, but you can listen to the full podcast episode online (www.rastechmagazine.com/podcast).
Marketing is about storytelling. The most compelling stories, the ones that speak to consumers’ needs and wants, are the ones that will ultimately influence their buying decisions.
In RAS, it’s the story of sustainability, the story of an alternative to producing seafood without depleting our natural resources. It’s the story of fish grown in optimal conditions, the story of the people, the farm technicians who look after the health and welfare of the fish.
RAS producers are already demonstrating they’re up to the challenge, and are doing some amazing things on the marketing front (see page 22), with help from some of the best marketing minds in the food industry. Consumers are in for a treat.
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