Report Synopsis

Brand of Origin. Exploring the marketing power of provenance for agrifood producers

Abby McKibben

Consumer desire to know more about the origin of their food has moved beyond country of origin labelling alone. Consumers are presented with more food choices than ever before from both retail private labels and both small and big brands. The challenge for producers to attract both brand awareness and loyalty has never been greater.

The rising consumer demand for more information to guide their food choices opens the door for producers to respond by increasing their own consumer communications and in doing so establish their value proposition to differentiate their product. By ensuring the proposition is meaningful they will build credibility and create a lasting favourable impression which will in turn deliver customer loyalty and ongoing success.

A global food landscape and a rise in the availability of information means provenance as a food term has moved well beyond place and now provides producers with a broadened central theme to highlight their uniqueness in terms of other elements linked to production and processing which is referred to as ‘social provenance’, and reputation and perception, known as ‘cultural provenance’.

Consumers are impressionable and growing consumer trends highlight an emotional connection to food that impacts purchasing decisions. Producers are moving beyond relying on attractive logos alone and those who communicate provenance values clearly and quickly will compel purchase and drive loyalty.

Producers ‘calling out’ a combination of provenance values on packaging are likely to achieve a price premium on shelf, compared to those that call out either one or none.

Each provenance element appears to be valued differently. The smoked salmon category in the United Kingdom is used as case study in this research.

Valuable element variables include, but are not limited to:

  • Reputation – depends on the notoriety of the chef if using as an endorsement.
  • Place – if a country has more brands leveraging from the same ‘place’ that are of a higher quality, the value appears to be higher and more consistent than countries less well known for production of a product.

The use of provenance values can validate a price premium.

The Halo effect of the provenance element of place and the production method of organics appear to add immediate value to the bottom line of products and offer a premium pricing opportunity, in particular to small-scale producers or those operating in a commodity market seeking a price premium. However, consumer trends have a significant impact on the weight of various provenance values and may change both in time and across various country markets at any time.

A strong provenance identity can offer some brand protection, especially when the value is tied strongly into unique production (social) elements such as organic or farmed. However, the author notes that ‘protecting’ is as important as marketing provenance, and where an industry or regional framework is not in place, producers should consider various means of external validation to authenticate or/and to enhance their credibility such as:

  • Official production certifications such as organic.
  • Food awards.
  • Chef or public identity (food influencer) endorsement.

This report describes, and uses, three provenance values as central themes that act as a guide in assisting producers develop brand strategy or further develop their produce by assessing the value of associating with, and the subsequent pricing proposition offered, by leveraging from one or more of the following provenance elements: spatial, social and cultural.