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How to Win in Noncommercial Foodservice

Can food industry manufacturers use the same marketing strategy for commercial versus non-commercial? Esrock’s President, Kevin Wilson, addresses the differences of the two in this video.


Full Audio (MP3)

Hi, I’m Kevin Wilson, president of Esrock Partners.

You know, one of the topics that comes up to me often from manufacturers is: commercial versus non-commercial, is there that big a difference, can I use the same strategy for both?

And, I always try to articulate the best way to answer that question, but recently I was at the school showdown in Atlanta and I had a foodservice director who was walking with me, and she stopped in the aisles and she looked around and she said: “You can just tell.”

And I said: “You can tell what?”

And she said: “You can tell which manufacturers are actually engaged in this segment, and which ones are just pretending to be engaged in this segment.”

And that was my “A-ha!” moment to say: you know, it’s not about whether or not I think the strategy is right or wrong, it’s not whether or not you think the strategy is right or wrong, it’s whether or not your customer can readily identify that you are active in the segment, that you’re inactive in the segment, that you know the terminology, that you know the need set, and that’s kinda the real difference between commercial and non-commercial.

In commercial, people want to throw out stats like profit calculators and brand stories and “millennials this” and “millennials that”, “millennials will eat my products if X, Y, and Z”. In non-commercial, none of that matters because it’s a reality.

I have students to feed, I have soldiers to feed, I have patients to feed, I have residents to feed. And they’re the same ones I fed yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that, and the day before that.

And I have a limited staff and I have limited service hours and I’ve got real challenges, and I don’t need you to talk to me about what you think millennials want.

And that’s probably the key difference between commercial and non-commercial. Non-commercial is much more reality-based, much, much more natural, much more gritty, much more in your face.

And you’ve gotta live, breathe, and want to be in that world if you want to be successful.

And my best advice for any manufacturer is: don’t fake it, don’t think you know it, don’t assume anything, don’t presume anything.

Get out there, walk a mile in their shoes, get with an agency that knows what they’re doing, and give yourself a chance to succeed.

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