Seafood branding not done at sea, says Leroy brands manager

Aslak Berge

“The battle for customers isn’t won at the pens,” says Leroy brand manager.

“Brand-building isn’t just about consumers. Nor is just something the marketing department does. It resides in the value chain.”

That’s what Bergen resident and head of brands and trademarks at Leroy, Paul Erik Michelsen, said at feed brand EWOS’s yearly Solstrand Conference. First and foremost, the spa hotel’s meeting room isn’t lined with sales people but instead is rather full of those whose focus is on production up the value chain.

Michelsen’s background is in clothing brand Dale of Norway and in Marine Harvest, and he has clear ideas on brands.

“Brand-building is about being convinced about what you’re doing. You have to communicate with those buying your product,” he said, illustrating his point with an example: “Helly-Hansen was going to introduce a white sailing jacket in the U.S. Market. They aimed for an exclusive sailing demographic on the U.S. east coast but ended up as supplier to urban rappers.”

Bummer about the target group.

The demand for food has drivers like taste, health advantages and convenience that make it possible to do this: “If you need a hammer and sickle to gut a fish you won’t get far,” he said, adding that the health trend, especially among male consumers, isn’t as strong as it once was.

“Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1999, are now the world’s largest consumer group. They’re a demanding gang. They’re online all the time. They won’t be spoken to. You have to speak with them. They like visible consumption and they care about what they’re consuming. It has to be sustainable,” he said, quickly adding, “That’s what concerns us. We every opportunity to get these people onboard.”

The way Leroy reaches millennials is via online communications channels Facebook and Instagram. “We’re trying our best and we think we’re on the right track,” Michelsen said.

“The average family rotates through 10 dinner dishes. Eight of these have been around since the 80’s and 90’s. It isn’t easy to change eating habits,” he commented.

To influence food choices, Leroy’s looking for sponsorships in the sports world like the Norwegian speedskating team. “Our focus in sponsorships that athletes are young,” Michelsen said.


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