Mobile marketing topped the list when we recently reviewed trends that have had longevity over the last few years. Will mobile marketing pay off for food manufacturers?
Large distributors like U.S. Foods, PFG and Sysco have led the way to mobile more so than manufacturers. But the distributor apps are heavily focused on placing orders. Mobile ordering is a logical place to start for distributors, but the apps haven’t done much to build loyalty for manufacturer brands.
Mobile marketing realities:
- Strength in numbers: Building mobile-friendly brands ultimately means cooperation among competing foodservice brands. Restaurant operators only have time to visit one or two online resources. They won’t visit dozens (let alone hundreds) of mobile locations to find product info. IFMA and others continue to stumble to build a central location because, deep down, competing brands don’t want to live alongside each other. But doing business in the same online neighborhood is the reality (and strength) of a mobile world.
- You think working with distributors is hard now? An enterprising distributor will eventually figure out the big money is not in simply moving cases but becoming the key information resource for the industry. An easy, cost-effective business model will emerge much like Amazon figured out long ago. The wealth of product info and reviews is what keeps bringing customers back. Food brands will be even more beholden to the savvy distributor who creates the online destination focused on product and brand comparisons before ordering via their mobile devices.
- Yet, it’s still a people business. Brands will have corporate reps and brokers on the street for the foreseeable future. But many brands still make it hard to access basic tools like sell sheets, short videos or simple product photos by the field — let alone to customers. Many of these assets — the vast majority being non-proprietary — continue to be squirreled away behind password-protected intranets. Mobile-based customers are attracted to information “providers” who make it easy to view or download basic information. Information “hoarders” who are paranoid to share resources freely are quickly being ignored by customers and business partners alike.