How to reaffirm the online branding message

GS1 Australia offers a range of services to brands, some aimed at helping them navigate the intricacies of online retailing.

As businesses start to move away from traditional retail brick and mortar outlets towards online business models, there needs to be a smart marketing strategy to help both brands and consumers navigate through to outcomes that will meet both of their needs.

GS1 realises that it is important to support companies moving into this arena and that digital images and content are important tools in selling their products. Mark Blitenthall is GS1’s manager of service engagement and is leading the charge in terms of getting a new offering into the marketplace.

GS1 Australia, is the not-for-profit organisation responsible for administering barcodes in Australia, and has been a long-term supporter of industry with services like barcode verification, which involves brand owners submitting product barcodes for testing to ensure that their products will scan at point of sale.

“More recently we’ve been offering additional services, including imaging capabilities via GS1 photography,” said Blitenthall.

“The service also offers other things such as content creation, where we curate the information that is on a product’s packaging. We provide the brand’s information to the retailers in an electronic format so they’ve not only got the product image, but all the information that goes with that image on the product.

“Consumers can look up the product based on its description, and be presented with a range of other information about the product such as the allergens it might contain. As people become more conscious of the food they consume, they are looking for particular ingredients, so it’s important for food brands to provide this information. Consumer expectations are evolving too, so people keep expecting more information on ingredients.”

GS1 starts with the foundation of making a product traceable and sharing supply chain information using the barcode. This new service has evolved to having an image associated with the product, and supplementing the supply chain data with information that is of interest to the product’s end consumers.

“Many companies that GS1 Australia works with initially come to them to get a barcode.
“Then they’ll realise there are other things they need to do, like developing a working relationship with their trading partners,” said Blitenthall. “The retailer will recommend providing information about the product in order to facilitate its movement through the supply chain. It’s at this point that GS1 can assist brand owners to provide all of the additional information that retailers require in order to support the process of getting their product to market.

“We also proactively reach out to our members to discuss their business needs with a view to providing as much support as we can. One of the solutions we provide to them is the photography and content creation service,” said Blitenthall.

It costs about $95 per product for content creation. As a not-for-profit organisation GS1 is doing its best to make it as cost effective as possible.

“When you think about what organisations spend to launch a new product and all the R&D that goes into that product’s development, $95 per item is a small fee to ensure that the product’s on-line marketing has the same focus as the rest of the R&D effort,” said Blitenthall.

COVID-19 has also led to a push for more retailers wanting to get product online. A couple of months ago, there wasn’t as much urgency to have an online presence, according to Blitenthall. However, with COVID-19, there has been a push from the retailers to not only have a bigger presence online but to make sure that the content on their websites is 100 per cent accurate and also that they are showcasing the products the best way they can.

“The retailers are encouraging brands to enhance their online presence, but I think that brand owners are also realising that there is a benefit to be had from making sure they have got accurate content,” he said. “Everyone’s on a journey and we’re all at different stages on that journey. Many are still at the stage of trying to get the product information and images right. COVID-19 has given it a bit more momentum and we’re starting to see retailers encourage, and brand owners buying into the concept of, supplying content.”

The process of using the service is straightforward, according to Blitenthall, and GS1 will do a lot of the leg work for the brand.

“All brand owners need to do is send us their products. We image them, transcribe all the on-pack information into an electronic format, and then contact the brand owner to let them know the information is ready for review,” he said. “They just need to review the image and product information. Once it has been approved and published, it automatically gets delivered to their trading partners by GS1’s Smart Media, digital asset management platform. Smart Media allows brand owners to store, manage and share all their images and product data and has direct integration into the different retailers.”

The brand has got the ability to choose which retailer to publish their images and content to, or they can choose to make the information public, providing access to all recipients
Blitenthall thinks that COVID-19 is a game changer and that the retail landscape will probably never fully return to the way it was before the pandemic hit.

“I think it took a while for some brands to catch up to that. We’re really seeing a lot of traction now and people who may not have been used to shopping online have gotten used to it,” said Blitenthall.

ˆ“People have been talking about the shift to on-line for a long time, but I think even when COVID-19 subsides it is going to continue the momentum that the past couple of months have given it.”

Disruption still felt in supermarkets due to Covid-19

To navigate the world beyond COVID-19, innovation that improves life for all rather than playing by the rules to manage risk is imperative to growth in the food and beverage industry. Speaking at the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology Convention, Kantar Australia’s head of sensory, Dr. Denise Hamblin says that “brand loyalty has been disrupted and there has never been a more important time to ensure our products are as good as they can be.”

In April, 93 per cent of Australians were unable to find their usual grocery brand or product in store. “This happened across an average of 13 grocery categories, and when it did, 9 out of 10 people chose a different brand. Where a home brand alternative was chosen, 78 per cent were ‘as satisfied’ or ‘more satisfied’.”

As product availability returns to pre-crisis levels, 3 in 10 Aussies continue to buy alternatives.

Thirty per cent of Australians surveyed as part of  Kantar’s Covid-19 barometer between May 22-26 plan to continue to buy the new brands they purchased during product shortages, with 27 per cent also continuing to shop at new stores they’ve discovered in the height of the pandemic. Over half are paying more attention to products on sale and on price.

“Ultimately, building value around the products and experiences we curate are vital in this climate.​ As concern around getting sick has reduced, the worry has increasingly turned towards the future, especially around an economic recession – and this brings more aversion to risk,” said Hamblin.

“For older Australians and those in a ‘conformity’ mindset, this may mean demand for the same brands and products for a lower price; but younger generations and those in a ‘rebellion’ mindset are more likely to try new and different things that provide better value for money.”

The coronavirus pandemic has provided an opportunity for brands to gain new consumers

“As we navigate our way towards a ‘new normal’ this is anticipated to continue, particularly in households with children,” says Hamblin. “In April, over half of Australians reduced their frequency in supermarket visits from an average of 2.5 to 1.7 times a week. At the same time, the propensity to shop online has increased for a third of us, with the purchase of food and beverages increasing the most of all categories.”

“This is a huge mass trial of a service,” said Hamblin. “Clearly unexpected in its widespread nature too as only just over a third of Aussies felt that grocery shopping online yielded an excellent user experience.”

Kantar’s qualitative studies also reveal the biggest pain points for online grocery shopping during the pandemic is the absence of sensorial stimulation as a motivator and for enjoyment. While an added cost at a time when price sensitivities prevail, doubt around product freshness and the inconvenience of imprecise delivery slots take strong reign. Price and provenance are also key to what brands should be thinking about to put the consumer at the heart of what they do.”

“With 57 per cent of Aussies paying more attention to homegrown products, if your product is owned, made or grown in Australia, then it’s a great time to ensure consumers know about it.”​

Forty-two per cent of Australians say they will maintain most lockdown behaviours – especially food and wellbeing

As lockdown measures began, Aussies began to cook more frequently and more often from scratch. Fresh ingredients, healthy meals and new recipes were key.​ As lockdown progressed – and has now eased – Aussies are still increasingly trying to gain consistency with eating habits.

“While the crisis has forced many to do more to look after physical and mental wellbeing, it has also beckoned us to snack more and seek out treats,” said Hamblin. “This creates new opportunities for the food and beverage industry, just in a different environment.”

Return-to-work trends also provide opportunities for the food industry to innovate

Only 57 per cent of Aussies have a return-to-work timeframe in mind given concerns about hygiene and social distancing, as well as the commute and public transport. For the food industry, this may mean less reliance on office-provided snacks and ‘on-the-go’ solutions but opens the opportunity for supporting workers to prepare their own lunches.​

“Safety is paramount, and this extends into buying products to protect ourselves – especially important to households with children. We’re seeing an increased propensity towards vitamins and supplements. This also indicates a real opportunity for food and beverage innovators to develop functional and fortified products,” said Hamblin.

“Considering the consumer’s need for more considered, purposeful activities and connections as we emerge out of isolation; along with a renewed focus on health, a desire for local, an eye for value and new confidence, shopping online will stand any brand in good stead. Brands should also pay heed to what Aussies increasingly want from them at this time – to guide the change, use their knowledge and inform. The new normal presents opportunity for brands innovating to leadership.”

Australia’s most trusted food brands revealed

Reader’s Digest has once again completed its annual Trusted Brands competition, recognising and rewarding manufacturers that have earned the public’s nod of approval.

Through an independent survey conducted on a sample of 2,412 Australian adults by market research company Catalyst Marketing & Research, Reader’s Digest has recognised the most trusted brands in 46 categories of products and services across a wide range of industries.

“Many purchases are made with the heart and, even in this digital age, it’s the brands which continue to offer quality and substance that hold our trust,” said Sue Carney, Australian Reader’s Digest Editor-in-Chief.

Dettol claimed the number one spot with other top 10 finalists including Dulux, Colgate, Band-aid, Dyson, Twinings and Lipton. 

Rotary clothes line manufacturer Hills Hoist was again voted the country’s most iconic brand, followed by Arnott’s and SPC which both earned Highly Commended titles.

Australia’s most trusted food and beverage manufacturers include:
•    Beer – James Boag (Winner), Heineken, Corona and Crown Lager (Highly Commended)
•    Bread – Bakers Delight (Winner), Helga’s and Burgen (Highly Commended)
•    Breakfast Foods – Weet-Bix (Winner), Uncle Tobys and Kellogg’s (Highly Commended)
•    Confectionery – Lindt (Winner), Cadbury and Darrel Lea (Highly Commended)
•    Frozen Foods – Birds Eye (Winner), McCain and Ingham (Highly Commended)
•    Ice Cream – Peters (Winner), Streets and Bulla (Highly Commended)
•    Milk – Dairy Farmers (Winner), Devondale and Pauls (Highly Commended)
•    Pies – Four’n Twenty (Winner), Mrs Macs and Sargents (Highly Commended)
•    Sugar substitutes – equal (Winner), Splenda and natvia (Highly Commended)
•    Tea – Twinings (Winner), Lipton and Dilmah (Highly Commended)
•    Yoghurt – Yoplait (Winner), Dairy Farmers and Jalna (Highly Commended)

For the full list of winners, head to