Food Brand Nation is a podcast dedicated to foodservice product manufacturers — specifically for marketing and sales folks.
Each brief show provides perspective on how to reach and influence customers based on feedback we receive from independent operators and DSRs every week.
The show is produced by the Association for Foodservice Distributor Representatives (AFDR) and Restaurant Product Finder.

Foodservice product branding nearing its end?

You can pick your favorite reason why tired branding techniques don’t work anymore for foodservice manufacturers.

  • Millennials don’t care about mom’s brand. The recent Kraft-Heinz news about writing down $15 billion in brand value reminded us about that.
  • In foodservice, private labels have taken over large swaths of the landscape.
  • Print advertising is mostly useless.
  • Social media in a B2B world like foodservice often is a lot of hype… with few results.

But this is all great news for manufacturers who don’t continue to throw money away over yesterday’s glimmers of marketing hope. 

Listen in to today’s podcast!


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Now is the time to turn marketing inside out to differentiate your brand from the sheeples continuing to think a new logo is going to be the turning point.

Here are three strategies that few foodservice manufacturers deploy — and probably zero companies use all three.

  • #1 — Training as the new marketing.
    Reality is most operators, DSRs and brokers don’t focus on your brand.  They only care that their respective businesses get growing.  So ads, rebates and promotions don’t matter much — unless you educate them on how your going to help build business. If you’re not teaching something, they’re too busy for any silliness.  They’ll find the answer from someone if you don’t provide it via the Internet.  This is why foodservice marketing should be dominated by training customers and influencers like DSRs on WHY a product is a business builder.
  • #2 — Focus on the core group of independent operators, DSRs and brokers who are your biggest fans. 
    Size doesn’t matter anymore.  Having 20,000 operators on a mailing list holds little value if only 700 of them ever open your emails.  Who cares if an online publication has 100,000 readers… if 0.002% click on your ad.  The flip side of the alleged social media wave is your message is drowning in among all the “free” exposure  — even for big brands.  Start rewarding those 700 who truly care about your brand.  These champions will do a much more efficient job because they’re actually inside the back of restaurants and other establishments where decisions are made.
  • #3 — Build a following around old, existing products.
    You can never stop innovating — new products do drive future business and today’s conversations. But old evergreen products deserve at least equal attention.  Why?  Because these products are still “new” in the eyes of folks who’ve never used them before.  But more importantly there are true believers who won’t use anything else but your evergreens.  Do you know who they are?  And do you engage them to tell your product story?   Evergreens are often the products that top your most-sold list. One company we recently reviewed drove 80% of its sales from 14% of the products in its portfolio.  Bet you’re in much the same situation.  About 90% of the product info requests at Restaurant Product Finder are for standby products that have been around for years.

Stay tuned… we’ll be doing deep-dives on each of these topics in the near future.  Oh, and because you’ve listened this far… you’ll be on our VIP list.  We’ll be clearing out our lists of deadwood, too.


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