Framed within a cottage setting, the food, drink and lifestyle website Weekend at the Cottage offers visitors original content focusing on delicious, easy-to-make recipes, entertaining ideas and living life in cottage country.
“In our minds, every day can, and should, feel like it’s a weekend at the cottage,” says Carol Bagozzi, who along with business partner Nik Manojlovich, host the lifestyle website.
After gaining popularity – more than 125,000 monthly website page views and 100,000 monthly YouTube views – and repeated requests from fans at food events to buy their products, the duo decided to bring their brand to store shelves.
“We currently have over 10 potential products in mind that we would like to develop and bring them to market,” says Bagozzi.
Yet, to launch their own line, they first needed a thorough understanding of the market. They looked to the expertise within the Business & Commercialization Solutions team at Niagara College’s Research & Innovation division.
The challenge for the small company was to identify the grocery market, target consumers, and discover how to best reach these consumers. They also needed to determine what products to launch first, explore packaging, branding and distribution options.
“We needed help looking at consumer demand, competition, price point and marketing strategy, given demand, production and distribution capabilities and our existing customer base from the website,” Bagozzi further explains.
The Business & Commercialization team began the extensive market research with an environmental scan to obtain an overview of the grocery market in relation to the main products like jams, jellies, preserves, coffee and granola bars, says research team member Roger Prado, a student in NC’s International Business Management program and a research assistant for the Business & Commercialization team.
“They brought a lot of insights to the process and were able to gather information that we didn’t have the time or resources to complete in an efficient time frame.”
~ Carol Bagozzi, Weekend at the Cottage
“From there we could potentialize target consumers and how to best reach them,” says Prado.
“For the products, we researched packaging trends, branding strategies for the logo, distribution strategies, solutions for promotional strategies (direct marketing, social media, sales promotions and influencers) and also how does the subscription boxes market works and possibilities to enter this market.”
After consideration of the comprehensive research and recommendations, Bagozzi and Manojlovich are now looking to develop their own line of spice blends and scale up their holiday fruitcakes this year.
Bagozzi says they went into this project with the idea to roll-out pickles and specialty preserves first and came away with a very different marketing strategy. “The team presented to us several times throughout the project and we adjusted the scope of the research as we went along,” she says.
“They brought a lot of insights to the process and were able to gather information that we didn’t have the time or resources to complete in an efficient time frame,” says Bagozzi, adding her company now has been able to develop a plan for launching the products, thanks to the marketing strategies from the Research & Innovation team.
For Prado, working with Weekend at the Cottage was an “extraordinary opportunity to work on a real-life project on a win-win situation, by supporting business with solutions to reach their goals, and by enhancing our knowledge on market research and marketing tools.”
The research project was funded by the Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI), through the College Voucher for Technology Adoption (CVTA) program.
To learn more about the capabilities offered by the Business & Commercialization Solutions team or discover how initial feasibility research is helpful prior to engaging with Research & Innovation for applied research projects, visit the website.