Butter brands seek greater collaboration with retailers to drive value

Butter and spread makers Arla and Dairy Crest are seeking greater collaboration from retailers to try to inject more creativity into their shopper marketing strategies after recent attempts to drive sales through deep discounting have failed to trigger growth.

Dairy Crest has revived the Country Life Buttermen brand characters to help drive its shopper marketing strategy.

Food manufacturers have been slashing prices hard in recent years to halt the rise in sales of cheaper, own-label butter and spread products. But the attempts to combat retailers through deep discounting have not had the desired effect as cash-strapped shoppers have been forced to become more frugal when it comes to buying commodity products such as milk and spreads.

Industry observers say the fall in demand has been accelerated by the restrictions retailers have enforced on food companies to limit how much they can promote their brands in-store. The need to drive footfall into stores and go beyond price-led marketing strategies from the country’s biggest supermarkets is changing this, however, and dairy marketers are seizing the opportunity to drive customer loyalty.

Arla is ramping up investment in promotional marketing for its Lurpak spread brand that will see it develop bespoke in-store strategies in collaboration with retailers. Upcoming promotions will see campaigns, created by shopper marketing agency Mesh Marketing, tailored to the seasonal activity of the country’s biggest supermarkets to drive demand around wider in-store initiatives, such as the back to school period  The brand is also looking to run online promotions, such as web page takeovers and competitions, with retailers including Ocado and Tesco.

Elsewhere, Dairy Crest, in partnership with agencies Grey and Dialogue, is looking to tie Country Life social media competitions and recipe posts closer to its in-store marketing. It is understood the brand is working with retailers to support the move and is also developing POS and on-pack promotions featuring its recently revived “Buttermen” cartoon characters.

Tania Roberts, group brand manager at Dairy Crest, says it is focused on pushing a brand experience in-store that is “consistent” with the broader marketing to “maximise commercial impact”.

She adds: “The butter and spreads market is highly competitive. To drive sales of Country Life, we needed to create a point of difference for the brand. We haven’t run one in a while, but given the competitive landscape, we decided to invest more in promotional marketing, focusing more on the point of purchase.”

Unilever’s Flora brand is using sampling and in-store promotions to help introduce a new creative platform that will see the return of its sunflower logo after 15 years. It is part of a £12m strategy for Flora, which will seek to remind consumers of the “natural goodness” of the sunflowers used to make its products. The campaign will run until the end of November alongside TV, print and digital activity.

The UK butter and spread market (Source: IRI Worldwide, 52 weeks to 20 July)

  • Butter and spread value sales fell 5.4 per cent to £1.2bn
  • Butter and Spread volume sales fell 3.8 per cent to 337m kilograms
  • Own label value sales fell 7.7 per cent to £172
  • Own label volume sales fell 5.1 per cent to 51.1m kilograms


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