I’m having a chat this week with Richard Horwell of Brand Relations, a specialist food and drink marketing and branding company. Brand Relations has been behind the launch and development of over 100 brands in the UK. Hi Richard and welcome ….
Hello. I am Richard Horwell and I am the Managing Director of Brand Relations, which specialises in Branding and Product development in the Food & Drink Industry. Brand Relations has been in business for 13 years and to date has been behind over 100 brands.
What inspired you to launch “Brand Relations”, specialising in food and drink marketing and branding?
I initially developed the 4 Minute Wine Cooler called VinChilla and won the Electrical Product of the Year Award in 1999, I later sold the company and moved to Miami, but after three years of partying there I decided to return to a more sedate lifestyle in London. As I already knew the food and beverage (F&B) industry well, I decided to set up Brand Relations, originally as a marketing company to help start up F&B brands. Over the years we’ve evolved into rebranding international brands entering the UK market and helping entrepreneurs, looking to get into the F&B space, take their dream from idea to reality. I developed my own drink Ibiza Ice, a sparkling wine cocktail in an aluminium bottle. This was sold all over the world and especially at festivals. Two years ago, I sold the brand to a Dutch billionaire – every brand owner’s dream.
Are there certain types of food recipes that are easily adaptable for mass production than others?
Yes, no doubt. Anything that can be stored at ambient temperatures tends to be much easier to produce and develop. This is because chilled goods are high risk and have high wastage. We work with an amazing recipe developer who has been in this industry for a long time. She is great at replicating any recipe into something which is healthy, tastes great and costs as little as possible, but still using the best ingredients. It seems nearly every client these days has a challenge for us when they walk through the door, but we usually find a way.
What type of initial research would you recommend before looking to manufacture that old faithful family recipe?
Market research is the key to the success of any brand. It’s very easy to think of an idea and think it’s going to make millions within the first few years, but without proper research how do you know whether or not it has been done before or if there is even a market for it? How do you know what’s worked and what hasn’t? you need to be sure you don’t repeat other people’s mistakes. Research is key – before you do anything, before you spend any money on creating the product, do your research. A family recipe that works at home in grannie’s kitchen doesn’t necessarily work on a mass-produced scale, so my best suggestion is research the market and speak to professionals about taking your idea to the shelf as quickly and smoothly as possible at the lowest price. Finally, try to avoid preservatives if you can, in this day and age, the market rejects them
On average, how long does it take to prepare a food or drink product from the initial recipe stage to being marketed in supermarkets? What are the main points that a supermarket would look for?
It depends on the product but usually 3-6 months from idea straight through to shelf. Supermarkets shouldn’t be your first port of call, as they can kill a brand, consumers shop in supermarkets pretty much knowing what they want and so don’t take the time needed to look at new ideas. If you go to the Premium Retailers and Health Stores to start with, then those consumers who are looking for new ideas and brands can engage with your product. This builds loyalty and over time, when you have a following, you can go to the big boys and be sure your product will sell.
You have lived and worked in the UK, USA, Australiaand the Middle East. Are there any major differences between the countries when it comes to marketing & branding?
I have found that the UK, USA and Australia are similar in their tastes and desires from the food and beverage market, whereas the Middle East market is very different. At the end of the day, it’s about communicating with the local audience and each market wants to buy something local and so this needs to be reflected in the branding, as well as the communication of the brand.
Do you enjoy cooking? If so, what is your speciality
I’d love cooking a lot, my favourite styles of food are French and Italian, but all that said my partner is a Thai chef so I have to say I get fed the best and freshest Thai food ever.
- Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing ?
I was in Miami just over a year ago and went into a specialist running shop where I was kitted out with Hoka One One trainers. It was like walking on air. Now I have a whole range of them that I wear with suits or jeans; wherever I go, they go too.
- Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (apart from your own!)
I love quality fabrics on clothes and fashion that doesn’t really date. I am too old to be trying to wear the latest fashions, so I stick to the likes of Tom Ford, Gucci and Roberto Cavalli to go from smart to casual.
- What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I don’t really have a wishlist, if I see something and I like it I buy it. I did see a Joseph Cashmere coat for the winter which I will be buying, their clothes are always great quality and full of style.
- Boots or Shoes?
As I said, I love my trainers but I do love cowboy boots too, sadly they don’t love me too much as after a few drinks one night I tripped and hit the pavement outside Raffles in London, cutting my head open and needing stitches. I now only wear them on nights I am abstaining!
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Thank you Richard for an interesting insight into food and drink mass production and marketing. I don’t think I’ve perfected my family favourites enough yet to go into mass production! 😊
All photographs have been credited in the article.