Despite finding success in major grocery stores, a niche gourmet sauce company wanted to take its brand to the next level. Yet, they needed extensive market research to help drive their business decisions.
La Dee Da Gourmet Sauces was struggling with targeting its message to the right audience in order to elevate sales and advance its business strategies, says co-owner Mary Marino, who, along with partners Jo Anne Torrance and Marlow Italiano, operate the sauce company.
“We needed a total forensic audit of our social media channels and messaging,” she says. “Making sure we were targeting the right market, knowing exactly who our competitors are and how we can make the most noise on the busy CPG [consumer packaged goods] shelves.”
The Ontario-based company creates plant-based, vegan, dairy- and gluten-free gourmet sauces. It sells its products in major grocery stores, specialty retailers and online from a website offering a flavour line-up that includes cauliflower alfredo, butternut squash beet, twelve veggie tomato and savoury mushroom basil.
Last year, La Dee Da engaged with food scientists at Research & Innovation’s Canadian Food & Wine Institute (CFWI) Innovation Centre for a project to help improve their new sauce formulation, ingredient sourcing and packaging recommendations.
For this marketing research project, the company looked to R&I’s Business & Commercialization Solutions’ (BCS) expertise to help increase brand visibility and better reach their target audience to advance their product sales.
The business research team investigated the Canadian sauces market, looking at key trends, the competition and identifying opportunities toward an integrated marketing communications plan.
A comprehensive report presented to La Dee Da provided, among many things, strategies on how to take advantage of digital marketing trends and revealed how algorithms work for the multiple social media channels to boost engagement.
“With the help of Niagara College we were able to save exorbitant amounts of money and present the ad agency with the final plan to create an ad campaign.”
~ Mary Marino, co-owner, La Dee Da Gourmet Sauces
“It has helped us gain a better understanding of where we are and where we need to go to continue on a successful path,” Marino says.
Part of the overall intention was to deliver in-depth groundwork in preparation for an ad agency to implement – market research that can sometimes be expensive.
“We also needed assistance to fully understand what it is an agency would be looking for,” adds Marino. “With the help of Niagara College we were able to save exorbitant amounts of money and present the ad agency with the final plan to create an ad campaign.”
Alongside providing essential assistance to a small business, the research project also provided practical, real-world experience for the business research assistant with BCS, whose hours were funded through the RBC Future Launch program – a $500 million Canadian initiative aimed at helping young people access meaningful employment through practical work experience, skills development, networking and access to mental well-being supports and services.
Through the BCS, the RBC Future Launch program is being used to connect students with businesses who require support for market research, go-to-market strategies and steer or creatively pivot their business model.
“This role gives me real-world experience, so now I know what businesses are looking for, what are their struggles, what are the resources needed to grow a brand, and how to provide them with efficient solutions to their problems.”
~ Karla Perez-Islas, research assistant
For student Karla Perez-Islas, the business research assistant and primary investigator on the La Dee Da market research, she says working on the project was an invaluable experience.
“This role gives me real-world experience, so now I know what businesses are looking for, what are their struggles, what are the resources needed to grow a brand, and how to provide them with efficient solutions to their problems,” explains Perez-Islas, who is in her third and final year of NC’s Business Administration-Marketing program.
“Also, you make lots of connections as you are working with people who have valuable years of experience.”
To discover if your business could be a candidate to receive assistance by the research students at Business & Commercialization Solutions through the RBC Future Launch program, contact project manager Paula Reile at [email protected]
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.