My firm, Insight to Action, was challenged by a B2B food ingredient client to create a category analysis of the global reduced sodium market that includes both overt and stealth initiatives. This category analysis was then translated to prioritized customer targets and marketing approaches.
First, we selected the most promising countries and markets for sodium reduction. This selection relied on secondary sources using Internet research to assess 86 markets for potential demand, using markers such as regulatory goals, salt consumption per capita, rate of high blood pressure and heart disease and population with moderate to high income.
Working with the R&D team and existing research on leading sources of dietary sodium, we then identified the end product category focus, such as bread, bakery, snacks and cheese.
Finding the Lost Sodium: Using Keyword Strategies to Identify Public and Stealth Sodium Reduction Initiatives
Going a step deeper, we looked for public evidence of sodium reduction as a corporate initiative for the leading Food Manufacturing and Food Service firms in each country. In most markets, we focused on the top 10-20 firms, but in the US we included the top 50, since many of the firms are very large.
Internet research on public evidence revealed large amounts of useful data. Our search strategy included keywords related to:
- Sustainability and annual reports
- New product descriptions
- Public domain speeches at conferences
- Press releases
- Industry association reports and listings.
We learned that there was a huge amount of information available on this topic. For example, the UK is a world leader in sodium reduction, and the department of health publishes food manufacturer progress and commitments by specific product categories and timelines.
Similarly, the US has the NSRI and Australia has the Food & Health Dialogue and Healthier Australia Commitment. We searched on a number of keywords, including salt, sodium, low and reduced sodium and salt. We also used Google Translate to identify relevant documents that are not available in English.
After gaining a thorough knowledge of public initiatives, we turned our focus to identifying stealth initiatives. Gathering this level of insight required primary research. The global Internet research of overt initiatives enabled us to have better, more knowledgeable conversations in our quest to learn about stealth sodium reduction.
For example, bread is a leading source of sodium in North American and European diets. Many people are surprised to learn that the restaurant chain, Subway, has accomplished a 13-30% sodium reduction in its lunch and dinner subs. While Subway makes this information available, they have chosen not to market it aggressively because of the widespread consumer perception that lower sodium equals lower taste.
To discover more stealth sodium reduction efforts, we conducted focused analysis of nutritional labels in several key product categories. This analysis revealed, for example, that from 2010 to 2012, Cheez Its, Special K Crackers and Pepperidge Farm Crackers all reduced their sodium per 100 grams, while Wheat Thins, Ritz and Keebler made reductions from 2008 to 2010 and also from 2010 to 2012.
We could then pinpoint brands with initiatives to sodium reduction that may be interested in further reductions, depending on the regulatory climate and the technical feasibility.
Much press is given to the amount of data individuals share publicly on the Internet and how this fact affects culture and society. But we hear less about the large amounts of data made public by companies, organizations and brands. The next time you need actionable B2B research, start the process with Google. You may be surprised at just how close a focused search strategy can get you to a comprehensive B2B market analysis.