In 1849, August Alexander Levón established a steam-powered mill in Vaasa, Finland. Over the past 170 years the Vaasan bread and bakery products have been a strong, desired element on the Finnish food tables. Today, Vaasan Ltd has around 1400 employees in Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. As part of the global bakery group Lantmännen Unibake, the company is among the leading bakery companies in Europe with operations in over 20 countries. This article is about how Vaasan Ltd follows changing consumer trends and adopts audiences to optimize the product quality and evolving consumer experience.
Where tradition, innovation and changing consumer tastes meet
The tradition, knowhow, and passion that overarches 170 years of history in the fiercely competed food industry is admirable in any country, also when viewed on a global scale. Within such a long timespan trends, tastes and consumer behaviour in general have taken significant steps into a direction or another. If we think about the past 10 years only, we have witnessed a surge of a major trend that favours oats-based bakery products and breads. The trends of health consciousness, awareness on environmental sustainability, as well as special diet requirements based on advanced food science also have a significant impact on the product development.
“We are proud of our products, such as our comprehensive Oat portfolio and state of art Rye products such as Ruispalat Ohut Herkku and Finland’s most popular bread, Vaasan Ruispalat”, opens Minna Cousins, Commercial Director at Vaasan Ltd. “In everything we do, we aim at challenging ourselves, with the goal of serving people’s needs and delivering the best, healthiest and tastiest breads to people’s food tables”, Cousins continues. “To be successful in our journey we need to constantly listen to the market, identify trends, develop our products and stay close to people. It is a puzzle of many things, but happy, satisfied customers are the best reward we can imagine”, Cousins adds.
When one eats bread, say Vaasan Ruispalat, there is a massive amount of work, testing, trials and errors, knowhow and experience poured into that slice of bread. Furthermore, the experience for you might be different than it is for me. We have our own, varying needs, such as the occasions and contexts where we eat that bread. One size does not fit all. Thus Vaasan Ltd has defined specific, dedicated audiences that help the company to stay on top of the market.
Audiences and insights that make the mark
Some of us seek food products that help us to stay healthy and feel good. Some prefer products that are good for the children, providing the nutrition vital to support the growth and development of the kids. Also, some of us prefer delicious taste, even on the expense of healthiness. There are no “right or wrong” tastes, there just are different kinds of people who have different sets of preferences. Thus companies commonly aim at understanding those core preferences and trends, and encapsulate them in a strong product portfolio that is designed to cater those needs.
“Constant learning is the key. Trends evolve all the time, so we need to constantly listen to consumers and learn to stay ahead of the curve”, comments Minna Cousins. “We have carried out major strategic work to identify trends and behavioural patterns linked to bakery products. Based on this work we have defined specific audiences that match with key behaviours, linking back to our product portfolio”, Cousins adds.
Earlier in the Spring 2020 Vaasan Ltd started to collaborate with Crowst to enable direct insights pulse from consumers, people who buy. One of the key elements in this collaboration has been to establish the afore-mentioned, defined audiences as real-life insights segments on the digital Crowst service platform.
“The relevance of the audiences match and speed on sourcing insights with Crowst has been invaluable to us” -Mariana Liljeström, Research Manager at Vaasan Ltd.
“For us, audiences are much more than stereotypical buyer profiles. The audiences are formed by real people who live their lives, people who are motivated to express their views on our products and concepts, helping us to help them. We are thrilled to have these real-life audiences, helping us to develop even better products than before. The relevance of the audiences match and speed on sourcing insights with Crowst has been invaluable to us”, underlines Mariana Liljeström, Research Manager at Vaasan Ltd.
On audiences and their relevance on sourcing better and more powerful insights, please read our earlier blog post on the topic. As part of our service, we also provide access to our general food, fashion and technology related audiences. The sub-segments, from Innovators to Laggards, can be targeted as needed. Read more here.