Magazine article Marketing

Firms Figures & Facts

Magazine article Marketing

Firms Figures & Facts

Article excerpt

FIRMS FIGURES & FACTS

Did you know that 80% of UK households owned a freezer in 1988 compared with 65% in 1983? Or that UK consumers bought 1.2bn [pounds] worth of snacks in 1989, an increase of 9.6%? Or, indeed, that in 1980, chicken accounted for only 24% of the UK meat market, compared to beef's 34%? Since then, chicken has wrested a share of beef's stronghold, now commanding 31% of the sector, compared to 29% for beef? (No prizes for guessing what the figures will show next year.)

If all these wonderful facts and figures come as a surprise, you have clearly not examined Birds Eye's "1989 Frozen Food Market" report, or the "KP Foods Group 1989 Snack Food Review", or the British Chicken Information Service's 1990 "Review of the British Retail Chicken Market". Such facts and figures are the meat and drink of market reports - the much loved information tool of market leaders, industry spokespeople and public relations firms.

Market reports provide a harvest of benefits to both publisher and reader. For the publisher - usually the market brand leader - it provides a venue to offer an up-to-date review of the market and its place within it. It is an excellent opportunity for a regular tete-a-tete with trade buyers and the press. Perhaps even more importantly, as Del Monte Foods marketing director Jill Mengham explains about the Del Monte report: "It cements the perception of us as an authority."

Mengham believes trade buyers like market reports because "it enables them to look at the total market. They know their own trade figures but not necessarily what the market is doing". Eugene Bacot, director at the PR consultancy Oakes: Bacot (which works on the Del Monte report), says the press finds market reports attractive because, "they provide the four essential elements in a story: facts, analysis, forecasts, and a good source of attribution".

While a newly-launched report usually provides the press with an instant story ("Delicious Foods announces a 50% brand share increase in the low taste market"), it also holds market data which can be used all year around. In an information-hungry age where market research companies make money from selling facts and figures, market reports have the added benefit of being free.

Although Birds Eye Wall's has published market reports for about 15 years, their use as a PR technique has only become popular over the last decade. "Not many people produced them back in the 70s," says Don Tyrell, PR service manager for Birds Eye Wall's. The company now produces three reports annually on frozen foods, ice-cream and the children's Pocket Money Monitor. The latter, explains Tyrrell, "started as two pages in the ice-cream report", "but the press were so interested in it we decided to do a separate report".

Tyrrell admits that, "at first we did the Pocket Money Monitor just for headlines". And headlines they certainly achieved.

The Monitor is covered by virtually every national newspaper. Regional newspapers pick up on the differences in pocket money received in various areas of the country, making play of the differences between North and South (in 1989 children in Scotland received an average 18p a week more than their London peers). Tyrrell explains that requests for copies from banks and government researchers help to lend the Pocket Money Monitor "its own dignity as a piece of research".

According to Julia Hingston, director at Paragon Communications, her company was one of the first to use market reports as a PR technique. "We're always looking for new PR platforms with which to create a story for a client," she says. "Research-based stories hadn't been done before and they got press attention."

Both KP Foods Group and Eden Vale, which have been publishing reports for a decade, started off by producing them for the use of trade customers.

"The Snack Food Review was designed to provide an objective, reliable and comprehensive assessment of the UK snacks market at a time when no collective information source was easily accessible and the industry lacked an authoritative voice," explains marketing director Doug Clydesdale. …

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