A good service provider can make clients feel like they are the only company alive. Partnerships today strive to become seamless operations where neither party can tell where one begins and the other ends. This is the modus operandi of Schraad & Associates Inc., a sales and marketing agency for the retail food industry. As a full-service food brokerage firm, the company for the past 45 years has developed plans that get brands successfully on and off grocery store shelves.
“We feel that the keys to being effective in today’s business climate and delivering the results our clients are entitled to are derived when focus, responsiveness and relationships with our customers are coupled with department acumen, manageable workloads and alignment to department needs,” he says. “Our customer teams provide a seamless solution to complex and multi-market customers while our department solutions bring an expertise and focus necessary to build businesses.”
For the past four decades, Schraad & Associates has evolved with and even led industry trends in food marketing and brokering, allowing it to develop best practices for each area that it covers. For sales driven brands residing in the grocery store middle aisles, Schraad & Associates deploys its brand management team and retail account management team to develop targeted customer trade plans that drives profitable volume. The teams are skilled at both ongoing brand development as well as new product launches.
The same concept applies to its frozen and dairy food clients. Schraad & Associates boasts a list of leading brands that the company has helped pioneer or resurrect in some fashion. For the fresh produce arena, which the company has served since 1988, Schraad & Associates cultivates key relationships and builds brands to be market leaders in small and large categories. The company gives its clients the peace of mind of only dealing with one broker who can manage a large and complex marketing area without faltering on individual location performance.
Schraad & Associates ability to break down key trends and devise the most effective strategies for each of these segments is the type of expertise its clients seek. Though Schraad & Associates is a company who “does it all,” its ability to tap into market nuances gives each client the appearance that this is a niche firm.
The Skills Department
Over the past couple of years, the company has further developed its niche skill sets to better serve certain industry areas. In April 2011, Schraad announced a merger with the Gotland Group of Houston to build its Hispanic brands business.
“We have identified authentic Hispanic foods as a rapidly expanding product sector throughout our scope of business,” according to Schraad.
“This segment of business has outgrown the ‘niche’ and the continued development of Hispanic brands will depend on the strength, focus and market penetration of a full-service broker’s headquarter and retail team,” he added.
In February, Schraad & Associates completed the terms of another merger, this time with Marketing Excellence Inc. Like the Gotland Group, the new addition will strengthen Schraad & Associates presence in the Hispanic retail food business and will further its growth in the specialty foods and dollar business.
“The specialty, dollar and Hispanic business department represents one of our company’s largest areas of growth over the past year,” Schraad stated. “The merger with Marketing Excellence is a terrific complement to our already strong and growing business with this customer segment.”
Later this year, Schraad & Associates will take its new and existing skill sets into the Louisiana market, specifically New Orleans. The company already remains within a mainly Midwest and southern region – Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas – giving it great insight into meeting local needs.
“When dealing at the local level, we create partnerships between clients and customers, and listen to what they need,” Schraad explains. “We have the ability to create dynamic marketing events at a local level that truly gets a great return on investment.”
By treating each area as it truly is – a city or community with its own heritage, own likes and dislikes – Schraad & Associates has found great success in deploying effective strategies. In the age of the Great Recession, Schraad explains that clients are looking for the most effective – and cost-effective – strategies, and that is no longer found through traditional media, Schraad says.
“Everyone is always searching for greater return on investment, a better ‘bang for their buck,’” Schraad explains. “It is so difficult and expensive today to reach a consumer through traditional consumer marketing approaches. I believe the most effective way to reach a consumer today is at point-of-purchase. That can be through creative approach to trade promotion strategy, an aggressive shelf-merchandising approach, or pushing more marketing funds to the local market. We have had great success tailoring marketing events with our customers that result in targeted brand building opportunities. Both our customers and clients win as a result.”
Schraad explains that the usual marketing approaches such as ads ran through television, print and radio is much more expensive today compared to even 10 or 15 years ago. The emergence and fast growth of mobile devices has created yet another platform to pull away a consumer’s attention.
With so much media fighting for the public’s ear, Schraad believes that the best place to reach the consumer is in the store.
“It’s difficult to shape impression and convey the brand image other than when the buyer is standing in front of the product themselves,” he says.
To better engage consumers, Schraad & Associates has created thematic events such as customer recipe contests and developed shopper rewards programs. The key is to look for programs that are not one size fits all, but really tie into the brand.
“We have a mantra, which is ‘We don’t manage brands, we build them,’” Schraad explains. “When you peel back the onion, so to speak, you will find a commitment and focus at all levels to build brands.
“What we do is dive as deep into the customer base of each market with a well-trained and properly equipped sales and merchandising team that is prepared to positively affect our clients business each and every day,” Schraad continues. “The net result is our brands enjoy a greater shelf presence and a much stronger performance during trade promotion initiatives.”