Stan Kuznetsov on Creating, Branding and Marketing The Breadski Brothers, an Award-Winning New Food Brand
Just imagine that you’re an ambitious Polish baker in Ireland who supplies bread and other baked goods to Polish and other niche ethnic retail outlets.
You want to grow your bakery business by supplying the bigger mainstream bread market.
How can you do that when there are already some 8,000 bakeries, between giants and artisans, fighting for a share of the market? How can you make noise, get noticed and secure a profitable segment of such a fiercely competitive market?
The answer, as today’s episode shows, lies in strong branding and marketing.
The true story here is about three Polish brothers, Martin, Magic and Mark who set up MMM Bakery in Casltebar, Co. Mayo in the West of Ireland, to supply real bread and other baked goods to niche ethnic markets in Ireland. Their new brand, The Breadski Brothers, was created specifically to supply the (bigger) mainstream bread and baked goods market in Ireland and abroad.
Stan Kuznetsov, who is in charge of new business development for MMM Bakery and The Breadski Brothers, is the guest on today’s show. Stan tells the story of how The Breadski Brothers brand was created and how this new brand has enabled the company to secure a healthy slice of the mainstream bread market in Ireland — the company now supplies some 300 stores nationwide, daily.
On the show you’ll hear how The Breadski Brothers brand highlights the brothers’ Polish heritage, an apparently counterintuitive but brilliant and successful solution to getting heard in the noisy, mainstream FMCG market.
What You’ll Hear About in this Episode
In this episode of the show Stan Kuznetsov gives excellent insights on:
- the importance of being strategic with your product sampling
- why you should think of branding as an investment not an expense
- the benefits of really listening to your customers
- why you should shape your marketing strategy based on your knowledge of your customers
- the business benefits of making connections through networking
- avoiding the trap of focusing solely on making your product rather than marketing and selling it
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Get the Show Transcript
If audio isn’t your thing, you can download a free transcript of the show here: Ep #038. Stan Kuznetsov. The Breadski Brothers. Creating and Marketing a New Food Brand.
You can also find the full transcript of the show at the end of this post.
Very Sound Bites from Stan Kuznetsov
Another Episode Featuring Real Bread That Will Interest You
The Artisan Food & Drink Business Show Episode #037: Food and Drink Voices from The Kerrygold Ballymaloe Festival of Food and Drink (LitFest) 2016 features Declan Ryan, Irish artisan baker and Irish sourdough pioneer. My interview with Declan starts at 52 minutes, 03 seconds, and you can listen to it here: http://myartisanbusiness.com/podcast/food-and-drink-voices-from-the-kerrygold-ballymaloe-literary-festival-of-food-and-wine-litfest-2016/
Don’t Miss New Episodes of the Artisan Food & Drink Business Show
If you’d like to hear each new episode of the show as it’s released you can subscribe for free on iTunes.
Links Mentioned in the Show
- The Breadski Brothers
- The Breadski Brothers on Twitter
- The Breadski Brothers on Facebook
- The Breadski Brothers on Youtube
- MMM Family Bakery
- Bord Bia
- Enterprise Ireland
- Real Bread Ireland
- Irish Quality Food Awards
- The Dieline’s blog on The Breadski Brothers award-winning packaging and branding
- Institute Designers Ireland
- La Patisserie di Angelo
- The Musgrave Food Academy Programme
- True Story
- Brand Union
- Mary’s Meals
- Bia Beag. This ravishingly delicious website (it translates as “small food”) is written by Keith Bohanna and celebrates Irish artisan food and drink producers.
Other Useful Links Relating to Topics Stan Discussed
On Product Sampling
Tessa Stuart, food and drink packaging expert, was recently hired by Gem Misa, founder of Cauli Rice, to do product sampling and conduct video interviews of supermarket shoppers’ reactions to Cauli Rice.
Tessa describes how Gem was able to use this customer research to approach buyers and provide them with (video) evidence of how much they liked Cauli Rice. Tessa also provides a link to a short article by Adam Pollack (founder of Joyloop Foods) with three solid insights on why product sampling will benefit your food or drink business.
Thanks for Listening
Thanks for listening to the show. If you are a food or drink producer who would like to come on the show (it’s free) to talk about your products, or if you are an industry professional who would like to talk about your services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me by using the Contact Form on this website or by tweeting me @FoodDrinkShow.
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The following article, published in the Western People (on August 22, 2016) gives news of The Breadski Brothers’ 2-star award in the Great Taste Awards for their Rye Bread with Cranberries. That’s some going! As they say in Co. Mayo. Congratulations.
Transcript of the Show
Catherine Moran: Hello, and welcome to episode 38 of The Artisan Food & Drink Business Show, the show where artisan producers tell their brand story and share the secrets of their success. I’m your host, Catherine Moran.
Today’s episode features Stan Kuznetsov, who is in charge of new business development for a real bread bakery in Castlebar in Co. Mayo, which is on the West Coast of Ireland.
The bakery is a substantial business, employing some 50 people in the bakery alone and distributing to 300 stores nationwide, daily. There are other food-related businesses allied to the bakery, which you’ll hear more about on the show.
There’s a fascinating backstory to this real bread bakery. Three Polish brothers, Magic, Mark and Martin Chlebicki arrived in Ireland in 2006 and set up MMM Bakery to supply bread, confectionery and other baked goods to the ethnic (primarily Polish) food retail sector in Ireland.
Fast forward to 2015 — and this is where Stan becomes an integral part of the story — and we have the birth of a new brand, The Breadski Brothers. The Breadski Brothers runs in tandem with MMM Bakery, but the crucial difference is that The Breadski Brothers brand was created specifically to capture mainstream consumers, including those in the Irish market and international markets such as the UK and the Middle East.
On the show, Stan describes how he goes about getting new business. A key element of this is the creation, branding and marketing of The Breadski Brothers brand. You’ll hear a lot about really inspired food marketing and branding in this episode.
This episode starts with a short piece — just over a minute — in which Stan and I are looking down on the bakery floor. Stan kindly gave me a tour of the bakery. It’s an impressive space. Everything, from the giant ovens, to the confectionary station with its wonderful set of tools of the confectionery trade — the best I have ever seen — to its “spick and span, everything in its place” nature of the entire bakery, shouts very clearly that this business means business. Check out my website myartisanbusines.com for a photo of the confectionery station at The Breadski Brothers Bakery. Here, now, is my conversation with Stan Kuznetsov.
Catherine Moran: Would you mind showing me where…
Stan Kuznetsov: Yeah. Absolutely.
Catherine Moran: Wow! We’re looking down on the bakery now.
Stan Kuznetsov: Yeah, this is the main bakery section. The guys over there with all the mixers, proovers, ovens. Everything’s produced handmade. Once it’s baked, products go into chilling area and then slicing area and then packaging. There’s a storage facility further down and there’s a confection area as you see, straight through that archway.
Catherine Moran: Right. Wow! You got the bakery down there and it’s pretty much virtually a 24/7 operation?
Stan Kuznetsov: Pretty much, yeah. The baking itself takes about maybe 18 hours.
Catherine Moran: Right, from start to finish.
Stan Kuznetsov: It’s all hand-made. There’s a lot of manpower involved and they’re all qualified bakers, they’re not just guys from the street. They’re all professional bakers. If anything goes wrong, they know how to fix it. They know how to operate the ovens properly. They know how the bread should look like when it’s ready, when it’s not ready, the dough, etc. It’s a great operation.
Catherine Moran: Very good, very good.
Stan Kuznetsov, Chief Business Development Officer from The Breadski Brothers, thank you very much for coming on the Artisan Food & Drink Business Show this morning.
Stan Kuznetsov: Thank you for the opportunity. I hope it’s going to be a great podcast.
Catherine Moran: I think it’s going to be fun. Before we talk about your role as the Chief Business Development Officer with The Breadski Brothers, it would be very interesting to hear what you did before your current position.
Stan Kuznetsov: Okay. I’m originally from Belarus. The country in Eastern Europe between Russia and Poland. I came to Ireland in 2002, which has been 14 years now. That was a cold January. Before I joined the Breadski Brothers, I ran my own company in telecom business. It’s been the busiest life-learning experience since 2008 because I’ve really been through a lot of ups and downs and I learned quite a lot.
In 2014 I heard The Breadski Brothers were looking for someone to help and tackle the Irish market because their main market was in Ireland and they’re mainly selling to Polish and other Eastern Europeans stores. They’re really looking for someone with experience in the Irish market.
With my background, as well as my educational background — I have a degree in Economics and a second degree in Business Administration — I took that challenge and I went through the application process which took about two months between different interviews, presentations, assessments, etc. Basically, I’ve been chosen and I’m really glad I came on board and joined the brothers’ team.
Immediately after me becoming a member of The Breadski Brothers team, I started market research and we did it quite extensively and significantly with the help of Bord Bia, Enterprise Ireland, and I did a lot of focus groups around the country, and this is how it all started.
Catherine Moran: It was quite a baptism of fire, really, finding out about the Irish market and their attitude to bread?
Stan Kuznetsov: Of course, especially for the immigrants like us. We don’t have any roots here, so we only learn… it’s all based, really, on intuition and a bit of the knowledge that you experience yourself by living in Ireland. This is all about… we basically talk to society, we integrate with the community, and we guess and we take an approach and we learn from that.
Catherine Moran: What does a typical day in the life of, look like, for you?
Stan Kuznetsov: I really love my family and my kids. I try bringing the kids to school and crèche every morning and also try to collect them in the evening. This is if I’m not travelling, obviously, for business around the country or abroad. My business day, first half of the day, I really spend on global and strategic tasks where the second half of the day I mainly spend on answering emails, marketing, maybe meetings, and other stuff, the administration stuff that’s required to be done within the company.
Catherine Moran: What do you think the top three things a person in a business development role can do for the business?
Stan Kuznetsov: The key things, first of all, would be probably working on the company strategy and business planning. That involves, obviously, the market research and everything around it. The second thing would be the marketing strategy, which will also include PR and networking. The third thing would definitely be working on sales, which would also include building high level contacts with clients, leads, and partners.
Catherine Moran: When you say networking, networking with who?
Stan Kuznetsov: Networking at different conferences, events, exhibitions, etc. You don’t go there unprepared, you see who’s attending and then you prepare yourself, you try to meet with the people, the influencers or the buyers or the other contacts that may help you and your business to go further.
Catherine Moran: That will be all about opening doors or opening opportunities…
Stan Kuznetsov: Exactly, yeah. That’s pretty much all about the business. It’s all about connections. If you have connections, you have an opportunity that you can start working on.
Catherine Moran: Yeah, sure. Already I’m getting the sense that you seem like quite a strategic person and what is your approach to strategy and planning?
Stan Kuznetsov: There’s no simple answer, really, to that. There are several models that you can apply on your business strategy. We really apply a mixture of alignment model and inspirational model. We set goals based on market research and our inspirations. We analyse internal operations and then work backwards. We set up the necessary steps in order to succeed and in order to get to our goal. That seems to be working fine with us because we work in a highly competitive market. Making bread, you know, everyone makes bread these days so you have to take that approach.
Catherine Moran: When you say alignment, do you mean aligning with customers’ needs?
Stan Kuznetsov: Aligning with customer needs and with our internal capabilities.
Catherine Moran: Right, matching the two up?
Stan Kuznetsov: Matching the two up, yes. That obviously requires if the capabilities within the company doesn’t allow us to produce such and such product for the market needs, we either invest or we either drop it and switch and move on.
Catherine Moran: When I came in earlier, very kindly, you absolutely insisted that I have the chocolate truffles that are fairly a new product? A new product for you?
Stan Kuznetsov: It’s a new trial, yes. We haven’t introduced that to the market, we’ve only been pleasing ourselves internally here. Martin Breadski is the main confectionery person here. He runs the production and operations so he’s basically experimenting with some fine handmade chocolates and I really have to say we all tried them here just before Christmas and I’ve been completely blown off with the quality and taste. It’s really surprised me. There’s definitely opportunities for our new product to be introduced to the market.
Catherine Moran: Let’s talk about your products then. What is your product range?
Stan Kuznetsov: We are like a typical bakery. We produce bread, pastries, and fresh cakes. We have a variety of different type breads, about 25 plus. Maybe about 10 different pastries. A lot of cakes, maybe like 30 different type cakes. They’re all chilled cakes. They’re fresh cakes that need to be consumed within short periods of time, which means they have a short shelf life, but they’re all very, very tasty and the last exhibition that we did in Dublin at the RDS [Royal Dublin Society, a large exhibition centre] only proved that. I’ve personally been there and I spoke to tens of thousands of people during the five-day show. We were selling those products, we were testing those products, the feedback we received form the customers were overwhelming. We were completely blown off. Sales figures only prove that.
Catherine Moran: Right. When you say fresh, do you mean things like fresh cream cakes like Black Forest gateau?
Stan Kuznetsov: They’re all Polish traditional cakes. They’re all a bit different like cheesecakes. They’re all baked cheesecakes. Not like biscuit-y on the bottom and cream and something on top. It’s a more American-style cakes. I really like them. The cherry cheesecake we produce, for example, is my favourite one because they contain fresh cherries, not fresh but real cherries, not just a jam spread on it. The Breadski Brothers brand that we introduced in February 2015 gives us a bit of a boost to tackle the Irish and overseas markets.
We entered the market with three breads that we have tasted extensively during our focus groups. So, the three breads are The White One with sesame seeds, which is also diabetic-friendly, The Brown One with toasted pumpkin seeds, which also contains a variety of other grains like linseeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, etc. It’s extremely healthy. And our most popular one is 100% sourdough rye bread with cranberries [The Rye One], which is also a multi-award winner. Last year it won the Irish Quality Food Awards.
Catherine Moran: Yeah, I saw that. So these three breads belong to a new range called That Bread?
Stan Kuznetsov: That Bread.
Catherine Moran: And that was a completely new concept and also it’s coming under a brand known as the Breadski Brothers bread, isn’t that correct, which is new?
Stan Kuznetsov: Correct, yes.
Catherine Moran: The concept of Breadski Brothers is new?
Stan Kuznetsov: Yes, it is new. That was the Project X that I was hired to lead. Basically, Breadski is the brothers’ real name interpreted into English. The real name is Chlebicki in Polish and “chleb” is the first part of the surname — it actually translates exactly as “bread”. It was no-brainer.
The three brothers, there’s also a sister involved within the company, she’s head of accounts, and it’s really a family business and they really work well and it’s a pleasure to work for them. They are some craic [the Irish word, roughly, for “great fun”].
Catherine Moran: I can imagine the sparks flying in terms of new ideas.
Stan Kuznetsov: It’s also all collaborative teamwork in between all the departments within the company. We employ, in the bakery itself, about 50 people. We also run a chain of grocery stores. We have three grocery stores and a very busy coffee shop in downtown. Between all of that we employ about 80 plus people.
Catherine Moran: Yeah. Substantial business?
Stan Kuznetsov: Substantial business for the west of Ireland, yes.
Catherine Moran: When you say downtown, do you mean Castlebar?
Stan Kuznetsov: Castlebar, yes. Right in the centre. Right in the heart of Castlebar called La Patisserie di Angelo, it’s the kind of Italian-style coffee shop, which initially was intended to be just a coffee and some pastries and cakes and sweet stuff, but has been transformed by adding regular lunches and sandwiches with an Italian twist.
Catherine Moran: Yes, very nice. To go back to your bread, I’m wondering which retailer or wholesale outlets you have, where are your products available?
Stan Kuznetsov: Currently, we distribute to almost 300 stores nationwide, daily. Out of those 300, we probably have about 70 Supervalu stores. Most of those are stocked with the Breadski That Bread range and cakes. Some also stock our other breads and the rest of the stores are individually convenient Polish or other Eastern European stores. There are a few also Centras, Costcutters, Spars, etc.
Catherine Moran: You’re clearly in the conventional Irish market as well as the more niche ethnic stores.
Stan Kuznetsov: This is the way the brothers started the business in 2006. They realised they’re bakers because they’ve been baking since 1992. They’re experienced bakers so they said why not start their own business in Ireland, well not in Ireland, they were intentionally just wanted to supply around Castlebar. Then they started receiving phone calls from all over the country, “Yeah we heard about you, can you please deliver?” This is how it has grown. This has all come down to distribution, though.
Catherine Moran: Your reach is incredibly impressive. How on earth do you handle distribution nationally on a daily basis for a fairly short shelf life product?
Stan Kuznetsov: It’s good that you pointed out it has a really, really short shelf life because most products are maximum 5 days shelf life and those need to be exchanged every second day at least, if not every day. So, basically, it’s a real nightmare to handle distribution like this. It’s a real nightmare I have to say, but we have our own distribution network. We have two depots: one in Dublin, one in Shannon where we deliver overnight by trucks, and the guys on the vans pick it up from there and deliver.
It’s really a nightmare and we were hoping that we could extend the shelf life for some of the products, not for bread, obviously, and we’ll achieve some sort of a central distribution at least with some multiples like Musgrave or SuperValus where we deliver to a single location and they distribute it themselves. But again, that’s all down to shelf life. The shelf life you have to allow for at least an extra two days for them to process the products within their warehouse before they deliver to their outlets.
Catherine Moran: I can see why you call it a nightmare.
Stan Kuznetsov: It is a nightmare because the delivery guys in the vans, the delivery drivers, they start delivering products from 4 am, most stores they have keys that they have access to overnight and that really helps. That also explains, by the way, why we can’t have any more SuperValus in certain areas because the SuperValus are not open until 8, sometimes 9 o’clock in the morning. When we are past that area, we won’t want to come back again. That adds up to more cost. Central distribution is the kind of target for us to achieve.
Catherine Moran: There’s so many variables to overcome like the different store opening times. I can see how that can be quite a challenge. It’s quite big step, then, to go from local distribution to national. What top tips would you have for a company’s thinking of going national with their product?
Stan Kuznetsov: It really depends on their product range. As I mentioned earlier, breads definitely need to be delivered daily by the producer himself or his own distribution network. That basically applies to all short life products, but for a long shelf life products like muffins or packaged cakes, something like that, there’s a huge number of distributors that will be happy to accept their product onto their list once it fits, obviously, all the criteria such as price, branding, marketing plan, etc.
There are huge opportunities out there, as well as the government support with the organisations like Bord Bia. They do have different fundings, different support schemes that will help small business to grow, as well as the Food Academy Programme with Musgrave that we’re currently with. Also helps the small producer to get out to the large multiples and get their product out there.
Catherine Moran: It’s very much see what help’s available and put your hand up and ask for it.
Stan Kuznetsov: Exactly. There’s a variety, there’s definitely help out there. You just need to focus, not just baking, but on the marketing and sales.
Catherine Moran: That’s only half the story, really, the actual making. One of the questions I did want to ask you, which I hope we can come back to in a little bit is The Food Academy, the programme you just mentioned.
To go back to distribution, and exporting is, I think I might have read somewhere, that that’s something you’re thinking about, exporting your products?
Stan Kuznetsov: Definitely this is on the plans for 2016. We’ve recently visited in November the UAE market, Emirates. We’ve been to Dubai and Abu Dhabi with the huge support of Bord Bia. I can’t praise Bord Bia enough…
Catherine Moran: Bord Bia is the Irish food board. “Bia” is the Irish word for “food”.
Stan Kuznetsov: Yeah. They basically organised all the meetings with the retailers, the distributors, the really did a “wow!” job. We only had to sell it.
Catherine Moran: Just turn up and…
Stan Kuznetsov: Exactly. It was good fun. There were a few really good companies on the trip with us. We made some arrangements, we’re working towards them, and as soon as we achieve those, we will be starting exporting to the Gulf market. It’s not just UAE, we’re talking about the other countries like Bahrain…
Catherine Moran: What will your marketing angle be? Will you be marketing the product as “this is Irish bread” or “this is healthy bread” or…?
Stan Kuznetsov: That is a good question, thank you. It is a mixture of both, really. We’re definitely going to be marketing the product as an Irish-made product because Ireland has a reputation of quality food products, around the world. We’re definitely going to be branding the product under the Breadski Brothers. It seems to be working fine for us, especially overseas. It is definitely healthy, we’re not going to bring any more white bread that is out there already, that’s not going to lead anywhere.
Catherine Moran: No white?
Stan Kuznetsov: No white, no. We’re just following the market trends. I recently, a few days ago, there was a report issued by Kantar, I’m not sure, that the new market trends in the UK and Ireland are gluten-free and sourdough. We are already in sourdough, we’re an expert in it. We’re definitely going to be pursuing that. That includes the exporting plan for the UK.
Catherine Moran: UK as well?
Stan Kuznetsov: UK, yes, yes. UK is a very, very specific market. Huge market, fiercely competitive, so we need to think properly in how to approach the market. That’s where we’re starting out — the UAE market — we’re learning from there.
Catherine Moran: What about marketing? What’s your approach to marketing the business?
Stan Kuznetsov: Mainly it’s intuition, market research, and some sort of market introduction strategy by basically being a niche product, being a niche and specific product. What we bring to the market currently is bread. Everyone produces bread, I think there are over 8,000 bakeries in Ireland between very small artisans based in the kitchen and large multinationals like Brennan’s and Irish Pride.
You need to be different. You need to be totally unique in how you look on the shelf, how you taste, how you deliver your message to your customers. And knowing your customer is the key thing because you can market your product as long as you want but if you market it to the wrong audience, you will definitely… you probably won’t fail but you’re definitely not going to succeed to the extent you want.
That’s pretty much the marketing. But investing into branding, such as The Breadski Brothers, is also another thing. You invest heavily into branding, that takes time to develop the brand into trust the consumers will see in your branding and in your products. And then the branding will work backwards… work back for you.
Catherine Moran: You used an agency in Dublin to develop the brand for the Breadski Brothers and That Bread?
Stan Kuznetsov: Yes, I came across… when I first started working on this project that was end of September 2014. I came across the website Bia Beag; it’s an Irish website. There was an article about a presentation on some branding agencies with the most successful packaging that they did.
We basically looked into all those branding agencies and I spoke to several of them and we identified the two key leaders and I spoke to… before True Story, it was actually Brand Union, a company.
True story is ex-Brand Union, which is global company, huge company. So I really looked into their portfolio, who they worked with, their approach, the way they did it, and I really liked it. They also proposed some specifics about working on this project in terms of their view and how they see the brand will evolve.
So Brand Union closed their doors in Dublin in September, basically at the time I approached them, and this is how True Story was formed — ex-Brand Union guys formed their own company and they’re really fun to work with and they’re really, really professional guys. I can’t say enough thanks to Michael Hagan who is the account manager and Sarah McGuire [Partner and Creative Director] and also Phoebe [de Vere White, Partner and Client Director].
It is a very high quality, tier 1, branding agency. Prepare to pay high bills but they’re definitely worth it because their approach they take is just unbelievable. They do everything for you, they do market research, they speak with customers and they do provide you with several options. By introducing another bread product into the market means you have to invest into branding.
Catherine Moran: You have to differentiate yourself. They came up with the concept of Breadski?
Stan Kuznetsov: They did, yeah. I suggested that it could be Breadski because of the name, etc. I suggested That Bread. They worked it out and came up with The Breadski Brothers so it’s definitely their concept.
Catherine Moran: I think it’s one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever come across in food branding. It’s just so witty, as well, because it plays on the “ski” surname ending and it fits so nicely with the product. And I noticed that they’ve teased the story that genuinely exists about the three brothers and, of course, their sister. This was the family background and the family history in bread. They sort of modernised it and made it a funky, really cool label. Personally I think it’s absolutely wonderful the way you’re marketing the new concept.
Stan Kuznetsov: Thank you very much. I really appreciate the way it came out. They did a really great job and they finalised the story, which is the real story, actually. A lot of people cry when they read about it. There is a happy ending. The branding itself, and really worked out the lot is really impressive. Its been featured on the American website called Dieline.com which expresses the excellence in packaging.
Catherine Moran: The Dieline is all about packaging, good packaging?
Stan Kuznetsov: It is, yeah. Recently they also submitted The Breadski Brothers packaging to IDI in Ireland, which is Institute Designers Ireland. They also won it. So The Breadski Brothers is officially now the best packaging 2015 in Ireland, which we’re really happy about it.
Catherine Moran: Oh yeah, absolutely. Really good stuff. What about… sticking to the marketing side of things, what about social media? We have to talk about social media. Things like Twitter, Facebook. Do you use those channels?
Stan Kuznetsov: We do use, of course, these days every business has to communicate with their customers or journos or buyers through social media, I mean initially.
Facebook seems to be working better for us these days because we directly communicate with our end customers, whereas Twitter is more considered for communication with other media, bloggers, journalists, etc., influencers. We also do occasionally use Meerkat, which is a kind of a live-stream podcast.
Catherine Moran: For video?
Stan Kuznetsov: Video, yeah. We also have a YouTube channel though only we have two videos out there so far. We’re only starting. We also have plans of introducing a culinary show that will be filmed here locally and in the bakery. Martin will hopefully be the presenter for the show.
Catherine Moran: What have you done with Meerkat?
Stan Kuznetsov: There are only a few podcasts, we show the operations here and then we were live-streaming when we were at the Irish Quality Food award in September and there were a few other things. Nothing major.
Catherine Moran: Early days?
Stan Kuznetsov: It is early days. It’s really experimenting with those because there’s no set rules for that. You throw out posts, you throw out videos on the Facebook or Twitter and you measure the reaction, which is also hard to measure because you have to find that link between offline and online. That’s why Facebook works better for us because we target specific locations where we have presence and then we work on that and basically we measure the sales. If the sales grow, that means it’s working and we apply it elsewhere. Social media is definitely a great help. LinkedIn for sourcing staff could also be great.
Catherine Moran: The professional network, yeah. It’s still a bit like the Wild West I think, typically with all the newer channels like Meerkat and Periscope, it is very much suck it and see and experiment.
Stan Kuznetsov: Exactly. It also depends on the company, as well. For us, as I said, Facebook works best so far and it’s in combination with in-store tastings that we do on the weekly basis, three times a week around the country. Some companies may find that Twitter works best for them, it really depends on the company whether it’s a food producer, whether it’s a technology company, whether it’s a medical company, what’s there customer audience, etc.
Catherine Moran: It sounds like you’ve a pretty intensive programme of tastings set up?
Stan Kuznetsov: Yeah, we have several people working for us pretty much full-time, three days a week, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, they do tastings across SuperValus on a weekly basis. We did that since we launched The Breadski Brothers, really, so we’re almost 10 months now, 11 months, and it’s also hit and miss, obviously, but this is the only way you can get the people to know your product. The ladies and the guys that work on tastings for us, they do speak to people, they explain about the product, they explain about the operations about the brothers, about everything, and they also offer to try the product and that seems to be working. The sales, again, is the only measure. [laughs]
Catherine Moran: [laughs] The return on investment there. Finally, Stan, a couple of slightly curveball-y type questions. What, if anything, keeps you awake at night about the business?
Stan Kuznetsov: I suppose the same with any other business managers. Sales figures and ideas that you want to implement, whether it’s production-related, marketing-related, product-related, or anything else that you may wake up overnight and, “We didn’t really do well last week. Sales figures are down,” or “I can’t wait until I come in the morning and try implementing that.” These are the only two things I suppose that may keep me up at night.
Catherine Moran: Right. What are three pitfalls that aspiring bakers should watch out for when setting up a new bakery business?
Stan Kuznetsov: Good question. I suppose the first thing they really need to tackle is the market research. They have to know what product’s out there, what the competition is like, what the customers want or are buying currently, so definitely market research.
Second thing probably would be don’t become a busy fool. Don’t dedicate yourself solely to producing your products, either baking or any other thing. There are variety of support schemes from local enterprise offices Bord Bia, etc. to name a few, that will allow you to hire staff that you can delegate jobs to other people while you’re still focusing on the marketing and sales, which is the most important part of business. If you don’t market and don’t sell, there’s no business.
Catherine Moran: We spoke briefly about the Food Academy Programme earlier. Could you give a little overview of that?
Stan Kuznetsov: Food Academy is an initiative by Musgrave, Bord Bia and Local Enterprise Offices in Ireland, and it’s really… they call it a chance for small producers to present their products across large multiples. It really is, they invest quite heavily into it. It’s a great opportunity for any type of business, but mainly for start-ups.
Companies like ours also benefit from that because we get the product out there; we get an easier access to retailers, to stores. However, because we’ve entered the Food Academy Programme with bread products, Food Academy units in Supervalu stores is the last place where people shop for bread, so we feel that that may affect our sales, so we started experimenting with several stores by shifting the product close to the bakery areas they have in stores and that seems to be working.
But we still position ourselves with the Food Academy. We’re a Food Academy participant, not graduates as yet, but we hope to get there. This will definitely allow you to work through your marketing plan, work on the customer base. And once you increase your sales rates, you may be offered a central billing or even a central distribution with Musgraves, which will clear a lot of questions and issues.
Catherine Moran: Right. This is a highly structured thing, the Food Academy Programme, it seems like.
Stan Kuznetsov:It is. It’s absolutely fantastic opportunity for everyone as, I said.
Catherine Moran: Finally, Stan, you are also involved with Mary’s Meals. What is Mary’s Meals?
Stan Kuznetsov: Mary’s Meals, well it’s not for marketing purposes. We just felt that we need to contribute to some sort of charity initiatives and I researched a good few of them, dozens I have to say, but Mary’s Meals seems to fit.
Basically, thinking of what problems exist on the planet Earth, they all come from lack of education. And what Mary’s Meals provide is they provide food, which means calories which means energy for people’s existence and they force those people in the poverty countries, in particular kids, into schools, to feed them at schools, and I think that’s the best you can do.
Catherine Moran: You got education and nutrition. Hand in hand.
Stan Kuznetsov: Education is only thing that will make the world a better place.
Catherine Moran: Absolutely, yeah. I completely agree with you, and you are supporting Mary’s Meals financially…
Stan Kuznetsov: We try, Yeah. Basically, from sale of Breadski Brothers bread we do contribute a percentage towards Mary’s Meals.
Catherine Moran: Very good. That’s it, Stan. Thank you very much for talking to me this morning.
Stan Kuznetsov: My pleasure, Catherine. It’s been really great. Much appreciated.
Catherine Moran: It’s a pleasure, Stan, thank you.
Stan Kuznetsov: Best of luck.
Catherine Moran: Thank you.
Thank you, again, to Stan for coming on the show to talk about creating and marketing a wonderful new food brand. I hope you found it inspiring. You can follow The Breadski Brothers on Twitter at @TheBreadskiBros, that’s B-R-O-S. And their website is thatbread.ie.
All links mentioned in the show are available on my website, which is myartisanbusiness.com. You can also download a free transcript of the show there as well as seeing photos of some of the Breadski Brothers range of delicious bread.
To get updates on when I publish new episodes of the show, subscribe to my email list at myartisanbusiness.com and I’ll let you know when new episodes are live.
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That’s all for this episode. You can find me on Twitter as @FoodDrinkShow so please do get in touch if you have any comments or questions.
Until next time, I’m Catherine Moran, happy cooking, happy brewing, happy fermenting, happy baking and thank you for listening.
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