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Marketer Hot Spot - Interview Joelle Demiddeleer, Sopralex (Imperial)

Topic: 
Innovation
Author: 
Tim De Brucker
Joelle Demiddeleer
Freelance Marketing Consultant
Sopralex (Imperial)

Introduction

Joelle Demiddeleer joined 4P square as a freelance consultant a couple of years ago. In her previous life, she ran her own retail and design agency. Her specialization in packaging and new product development landed her a long-term assignment at Belgium's leading canned fish specialist Sopralex (Imperial). After rebranding the whole product range to adapt to new European regulations, Joelle was asked to help with new product development. With the new variety of "Fresh Anchovies of the Aegean Sea", Sopralex wins a well-deserved Golden Archer. These are awarded annually by the Royal Belgian Committee for Distribution for the most innovative product launches. Now she is evolving in the direction ‘marketing’ at Sopralex.

 

The Interview

Tell us about the best new product developed for Imperial? What was the need to come up with a new range (product)?

The new product we launched is a product that didn’t yet exist. Yes, we’re talking about anchovy but it is prepared like sardines, this when all the anchovy on the Benelux market is either prepared salted or marinated. It’s definitely a real innovation in its segment. A new taste and a new culinary approach to canned fish.
Imperial celebrates its 90th birthday next year, it’s the first national brand in canned fish in Belgium. We must continue to innovate by offering a daring product with the goal of attracting new customers, younger customers and customers in search of this type of products. This innovation can only come from a premium brand, the private labels only persue traditional competition methods.

Old vs new packaging

 

What were the key success factors in the product development process?

The first big success factor of the product development process was the extraordinary quality of the product we selected. The anchovy’s origin is the Aegean Sea, it’s a warmer sea, as a result the fish has a more subtle flavor and no scales. The combination with qualitative olive oil, results in the positioning as delicacy appetizers, the product is complete as it is, you don’t need sauces or extras to enjoy it. This qualitative product was unanimously appreciated by the buyers of the distribution chains. Every one of the Belgian distributers sells our product. They have all included this product in their product range, so it’s available in the shelves of the main supermarkets.

We have introduced the product as a limited edition, this because the fishing period is limited to just a few months a year. We always use wild fish, for all our products, so our primary resource is constantly fluctuating, this means that sometimes we’re in stock breaks.
We have launched the product in a new packaging, completely different in comparison to our mainstream product range. This helped us with the positioning and rejuvenation.
The communication of the launch was efficient and has reached its goal, partly because for the first time we have integrated a lot of digital into our communication.

Goal of the Golden Archers, is mainly innovation. Tell us what’s been appreciated by the jury.

We have not received a precise answer to this question. The product itself, its packaging and its communication have attained that our anchovy, fresh out of the Aegean Sea, has distinguished itself from the competition, which is not always the case in our sector. The product was elected ‘The Golden Archer Awards’ by the buyers.

Joelle, what are the main skills needed in your job to excel?

  • A strategic vision of the company
  • The capacity to analyze and react
  • Always having new ideas and being curious about everything

 

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