What can a marketing plan do for you?


Are you flying by the seat of your pants? You are, if you don’t have a marketing plan.

Developing a product, persuading retailers to list it and motivating consumers to buy it requires sound decision making and a great deal of planning. Therefore, it is highly beneficial to draft a marketing plan before initiating product development.

This article, the fifth in a series about entering the packaged foods arena, explains the concept of a marketing plan.

What is the purpose of a marketing plan?

As an integral part of a business plan, the marketing plan is a tool for achieving business goals, such as sales, profit and market share. It is a roadmap for your business, describing well-thought-out strategies and plans for taking your product to market, attracting customers and generating sales. Together with the brand strategy, it also provides direction for developing market-ready products.

Components of a marketing plan

Aligned with your business objectives and supported by extensive market research and analysis, the marketing plan defines the following:

  1. Key marketing objectives to achieve sales targets.
  2. Target customer demographics, values, needs, what media they use and where they shop. Targeting “everyone” is not an effective strategy. Narrow it down by segmenting customers into primary, secondary and tertiary, if the product appeals to a wide audience.
  3. Competitors, both direct and indirect, who satisfy the same customer needs. A competitive analysis will reveal how your product compares and the points of difference that are relevant to the target customer.
  4. The “unique selling proposition” that is a compelling reason for your target customer to buy.
  5. The marketing mix.
  6. Promotional activities, advertising plans and annual budgets.
Ingredients of the marketing mix

Also referred to as “the four Ps”, the marketing mix delves into product, price, place and promotion. These elements impact a myriad of decisions such as ingredient selection, processing methods, certifications, packaging and in which category the product is merchandised, to name a few.


Describe the product characteristics. How is it used and what are the eating occasions? Based on target customer needs and preferences, identify the features and benefits that will resonate the most. And remember the packaging; should it have special features?


Have a price range in mind to guide product development decisions. Although the cost of goods and overhead are primary factors, what the target customer is willing to pay – the perceived value of the product – ultimately determines how much they buy.


Based on where your target customer shops, identify the formats where the product will be sold (conventional grocery, specialty, discount, ethnic, natural health, etc.). Also, understanding regional market differences is critical to ensure your products are relevant for the market.


What vehicles will be used to get the message out about the product and influence consumers to buy it on an ongoing basis?

A robust marketing plan is an invaluable guide for bringing products to market, and integral to commercial success. In short, it can help your business survive and thrive.

Birgit Blain can make your food products more marketable. She specializes in strategy, branding and packaging development. Her experience includes 17 years with Loblaw Brands and President’s Choice®. Contact her at Birgit@BBandAssoc.com

© Birgit Blain

This article appeared in Food in Canada magazine.
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