'Made in Holland' as a large umbrella brand. The entire fruit and vegetable and horticultural sectors benefiting from it. Is that not a great idea?
Yes. But not so fast. A lot has to happen first. Responding to global trends, for example. These sectors cannot escape this.
Bernhard Nanninga is a Marketing Strategist at Agrado Marketing. Agrado Marketing is a professional marketing consultancy for the horticultural chain. He wrote a white paper as part of the White Paper Challenge.
This challenge was for the Horticultural and Starting Materials Top Sector. In his article, Nanninga focused on building strong brands. His white paper did not win first prize. This, however, does not negate the fact that Bernhard would like to bring about change with his vision.
Who is the competition?
“I have been in this field for more than 20 years. It saddens me to see that people are unable to join forces," says Bernhard. “The Dutch horticultural sector is still too fragmented. Cooperation often takes place from a place of weakness, not strength."
That may sound harsh, but it is already a well-known fact. It is something that began in the past. Things have since changed, but this fact remains. And that, while there is enough reason to (start to) change things.
“People still mostly consider their neighbor as competition. That, while there are worldwide market developments taking place. The real competition is long since not just around the corner."
The real competition is already on the fruit and vegetable department's shelves. That is not even considering horticultural techniques for the moment. "That is where the powerful brands can be found. These include Coca Cola, Mars, and Nestlé”, says Bernhard.
“A strong brand connects with its target group, building trust. Targeted advertising ensures this trust is strengthened. Consumers are willing to pay more for the assumed attributes."
"People talk about the brand. They share information about it and recommend it. At that moment, you are a truly strong brand. The retail sector can no longer ignore you. That is the goal," explains the strategist.
Using your strengths
Easier said than done, of course. According to Bernard, the first step businesses must take is to change their set ways. The market must be considered from the consumers' perspective, not the production side. "Companies must ask themselves what would make shoppers buy a certain product."
That can be achieved by learning to think like a consumer. The market must also be carefully studied. Nowadays, data can help. "Then you see, for example, that sustainability and food safety have become very important."
"The Dutch glasshouse sector excels in this. This sector must, therefore, ensure that it comes well to the fore. It has targeted marketing," continues Nanninga.
"Marketing is, however, more than just promotions. Marketing covers a strategic range of topics. These are research, gaining insight, strategy development, and designing sales and promotions. Here, a lot still has to be achieved within the horticultural sector."
Is a crisis needed for knowledge to be shared?
What needs to be done to enlarge the Dutch horticulture slice of the pie? A real crisis, no matter how crude, can help, says Bernhard. “Collaborative efforts were made during the 2012/2013 crisis."
"These were made in, among other sectors, greenhouse vegetables. These partnerships, however, did not materialize. The market recovered, and everyone went their own way again. Go with the flow and share knowledge? Not likely."
Knowledge sharing is, therefore, a point of improvement. To remain with the pie metaphor - eating a whole pie together rather than everyone having their own slice. This practice eventually leads to higher profits.
In Bernhard's white paper, he summarizes several points. A strong brand can use these to respond cleverly to global trends. One of these is a central knowledge database.
“There are currently small databases all over the place. Everyone is, however, rediscovering the wheel. By bringing everything together, everyone gains more insight. Focused innovations can then be made," concludes Nanninga.
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