Monday 17 June 2019

Marketing people: Emma Walls

Commercial director, Glenisk

Emma Walls, Glenisk
Emma Walls, Glenisk

John McGee

With over 70 employees and a turnover in excess of €21m, Offaly-based Glenisk is the largest independently-owned manufacturer of yogurt. Operating in a competitive market, the company has carved out a unique positioning for the brand as Emma Walls tells John McGee.

Describe your role with Glenisk:

I head up the division responsible for sales, marketing, insight and innovation, corporate and social responsibility and customer care. Essentially my job is about keeping Glenisk customers happy and growing their numbers.

What challenges do you face?

The same as every business — differentiating our brand, reaching overburdened consumers across diverse and constantly-changing platforms. 

But I’m much more interested in the opportunities that we face.

After 30 years relentlessly pursuing a vision of how good food should be produced, Glenisk is experiencing big growth in revenues and market share.

More than ever, customers are awake to the importance of real food produced by people who care about our health, our kids, our planet, our farmers, the welfare of our animals — and our future.

Some of our customers are hyper-focused on health in terms of protein, sugars and fat; others want to indulge. But in either case, they are tired of eating rubbish. They want real food, free from artificial nasties, that tastes good. It’s not easy to do, but it is simple.

How do you manage challenges?

There are no short cuts at Glenisk. We listen to our customers and we try to do the right thing. If we want to differentiate our brand, we have to make a different yogurt and a better yogurt. We are never interested in copying other brands in terms of their products or their marketing activations. We are always looking to bring something new to customers.

A  good example is our Official Irish Rugby Trading Cards, which are available only with our organic GO-YO Yogurt Tubes, through our partnership with the IRFU. In this way, kids have an extra reason to want to choose our tubes over competitors. And parents are reassured that their children are eating an organic, no added sugar yogurt tube, made with fresh Irish milk that contains real fruit.

In a competitive market, how does the brand gain cut-through?

We tell the truth. Brand building is about telling stories and we have a unique story to tell. In fact, we’ve a hundred of them. Our goats’ milk and goats’ milk yogurt business began 25 years ago when our MD rescued a donkey from the side of the road and nursed her back to health. The donkey recovered, but was lonely. A call to a local rescue centre revealed that donkeys and goats get along. So two goats joined the donkey and, in time, there were lots of goats that needed to be milked.

 At the same time, customers were learning about, and sharing, the benefits of goats’ milk. Today, goats’ milk and goats’ milk yogurt represents 20pc of our business. We may not always have the budgets to put those stories on TV, but a good story will always find an audience.

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