The Fleury Michon brand has moved from having a simple conversation with its customers to the rollout of a unified, multi-channel strategy based on proof – i.e. showing how the Group’s flagship products are produced.

Interview, during a L'Atelier numérique (L’Atelier Digital)  broadcast, with David Garbous, Director of Strategic Marketing at French foodstuffs wholesaler Fleury Michon.

You can find the entire interview in podcast form.

L'Atelier: The Fleury Michon brand has only recently moved its communication and marketing strategy over to digital. What’s the basis of the strategy?

David Garbous: We laid the foundations a year ago. We opened a Facebook page, we had websites up and running. But the truth was that our conversation with our customers, the scope of our relationship, was quite limited. So our aim was to project the Fleury Michon brand on all digital devices so as to tell the story of who we are. We wanted to work from the brand platform and use every network that seemed suitable to explain that we are a food company unlike any other. And we started out with the principle that digital is really a conversation tool, a tool for dialogue.

You had a brand that was already very well established, very well known to consumers. So are you saying that you weren’t drawing optimal value from the brand?

Well, it’s a fact that the Fleury Michon brand is a leader in the three markets that we work in. We’re the top brand in the charcuterie market, in the ready meals market, and also in surimi. However, customers don’t spontaneously cite us as their favourite brand. They do like our products, but they find the brand content rather vague. So one of the challenges right there was how to explain our identity in far more depth and detail. How do the people behind the brand work, what do they believe in, and why exactly are the products so good? Now that’s a rather profound conversation. You can’t wrap that up in five minutes, let alone in a 20-second TV spot. This is where the value of digital channels comes in: it’s a fantastic tool for telling your story in detail.

So you moved right away to the world of proof?

Exactly. We launched a campaign for our surimi which is still underway. It’s called ‘Venez vérifier’ (‘Come see for yourself’). We produced videos which tell the full story and which allow customers who are interested in the subject of food quality to come and see for themselves how the whole chain is built up, from the supermarket right back to our fishing vessels in Alaska. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are the tools which enable us to converse with the largest number of customers. But we’re also going to take along five bloggers – three customers whose names were drawn by lot, plus two journalists – through the whole chain. We’ll be in Alaska from 5-15 July to go and meet the professional fishermen, to see the quotas that have to be managed and how the fish are caught and processed. Take surimi for instance. People are convinced that it’s not made with fish. And the best way of convincing them is not to say: “Of course it is!” The best way is to take them along and show them so that they can see and make their own judgements on the way we produce this foodstuff.

Basically, digital is part of a much wider campaign combining several channels. Are you thinking of other ways of providing a service to your customers, in addition to your products?

Yes, that’s right, the actual product tells just part of the story but today we need to be able to go hand-in-hand with the consumer, to give him/her content and additional proof via other channels. Digital is one of those channels. Connected objects are a new channel which is emerging, which is extremely promising, and mobile apps – ‘mobile’ is in itself a subject that’s extremely interesting nowadays and we’re working on it. As we gradually feel confident that we have the right services, we’ll roll them out and offer them to our customers.

By Mathilde Cristiani
Head of Media