It is a tough nut to crack for a foreign food company to enter and stay in the Polish market. Well, Poles are not the easiest customers to satisfy in this respect.

They are a group that pays a lot of attention to what they eat. They read ingredients, are attached to already tested products and pay attention to the transparency of the brand message. When a food brand has a serious image crisis – they can literally blow up the Internet. And that, unfortunately, is not hard to come by, because companies that produce or sell food are one of the sectors that are most vulnerable to crises.

The key to a foreign brand’s success on the Polish market is not expensive, multi-channel advertising, but a solid PR strategy.

What to do and what not to do in Polish food industry public relations?

I. Dos

  1. Awareness of consumer trends in Poland
    • Sustainable production
    • Veganism and vegetarianism
    • Online shopping
  2. Media relations
  3. Food content and PR
  4. PR in social media

II. Don’ts

  1. Blindly following trends
  2. A message unsuited to the audience
  3. Lack of scientific evidence
  4. No crisis management plan

PR in the food industry in Poland – Dos

Let us start with these best practices:

Knowledge of consumer trends in Poland

In order to know how to communicate with Polish customers and what to emphasise in PR media messages and in everyday brand communication, you need to know what the most important consumer trends are in a given market. What trends dominate in Poland?

  • Sustainable production

Let’s face it – the food industry has a huge responsibility in this area. Caring for the environment (sourcing raw materials in an environmentally safe way, sustainable use of natural resources, not adding harmful chemicals to products and being transparent about production processes or food transportation) is slowly ceasing to be an exceptional value – according to many Polish customers, it is actually an obligation for brands in the food sector.

How to use this in Polish PR?

In your communications to Polish consumers, include information about what steps your company is taking to protect the environment and sustainable production.

  • Vegetarianism and veganism

According to a report by Roślinniejemy, around one million adult Poles describe themselves as vegetarian or vegan. On the other hand, as many as 43% declare to limit their meat intake. This trend has already been noticed by domestic food brands. A great example is the introduction of vegetable kabanos to the offer of Tarczyński (meat products manufacturer). Satisfied consumers themselves created positive PR around the new brand product.

Post on Facebook of Polish food brand Tarczynski

How to use this in Polish PR?

If you offer products without animal-derived ingredients, you should definitely introduce them to the Polish market. There is a huge purchasing potential here.

  • Online shopping

The last strong trend in Poland is a change in the way Poles do their grocery shopping. Until recently (i.e. before the pandemic), the vast majority mainly visited stationary shops. According to a report by the GfK Polonia Household Panel, in 2020 the average value of Poles’ one-time online grocery shopping increased by as much as 20%.

How to use this in Polish PR?

Communicate such shopping opportunities as multi-packs or discounts for app shoppers. And don’t forget about Polish seniors – PR messages should make it easier for them to cope with online shopping.

Media relations

Building relationships with trade media should be one of the most important elements of a PR strategy in Poland. Good relationships with culinary journalists, food critics and industry influencers are the key to getting the brand talked about online. And this is already a step towards winning new customers.

How to use this in Polish PR?

  • Press releases – include high-quality product photography here. Working with a food photographer is something you should absolutely not skimp on.
  • Sending product samples, personalised gadgets, PR packages (e.g. on the occasion of holidays or new product launches).
  • Sponsored articles (e.g., culinary guides in the printed press).
  • Organising events (e.g. on the occasion of new product launches with product tastings).

Food content and PR in Poland

For a few years now, Polish marketing has been convinced that content is king. It is no different in the food industry – here, too, content is the absolute king. Firstly, creating content is a good way to increase brand awareness. Secondly, content that is well optimised for SEO will attract more customers to your website. Thirdly – in the food industry it is really easy to create content that is simply practical for consumers.  

How to use this in Polish PR?

  • Culinary blog on the website (This is what the Polish brand Delecta decided to do when it launched its “Delektujemy” blog).
Culinary blog of the Polish brand Delecta
  • Culinary programme in the form of a video (a phenomenal example on the Polish market is the YouTube channel “Lidl Kitchen”, which currently has over 500 thousand subscriptions).

Social media PR

Social media is another essential element of PR strategy in Poland. After all, it is where all communication between the brand and the customer usually takes place. If you do not provide your customers with space for dialogue, they will find it somewhere else. And this in crisis situations always leads to negative opinions spreading all over the Internet.

How to use it in Polish PR?

  • Running Facebook with strong 24/7 moderation facilities is the basis of a large food company’s operations on the Polish Internet.
  • Interactive communication with fans on social media – asking questions, surveys and competitions are effective tactics for building long-term relationships. And that, after all, is what public relations is all about.
  • Stand out or die – at a time when everyone is on social media, it is good to bet on creative communication. A fantastic example here may be the Żywiec alcohol brand, whose social media strategy has for several years been considered a flagship example of unconventional communication on the Internet.
A post on Facebook of the Polish alcohol brand Żywiec

II. PR in the food industry in Poland – Don’ts

What is better to avoid in Polish PR for the food industry?

Blindly following global trends

It is easy to get lost in consumer trends. However, you need to be aware of two things. Firstly: not every global trend is adopted in Poland. Some time ago, Nestle launched gluten-free flakes, replacing barley malt extract with brown sugar syrup. And yes, the product was indeed gluten-free, but as a result of this change it became even more processed. Polish consumers are really conscious consumers. They are keen to read labels, are interested in healthy food and will not fail to criticise a company that deliberately misleads them.

The second issue is the problem of greenwashing, which is the strategy of creating the mistaken impression that a company and its products are environmentally friendly. Poles are not naive consumers. They know that the vast majority of “environmentally friendly” activities of brands (especially large corporations such as Coca-Cola or McDonald’s) are dictated by the desire for profit and to please the widest possible group of customers. 

Message unsuitable for Polish audience

In public relations for the food industry you can also fall into the trap of seeming to know your target audience. It may seem that our potential customer is… everyone. But remember that target groups are always divided into segments. How do the most important target groups in Poland approach the communication of companies from the food industry?

  • Generation Z – likes to experiment and try new things. If you are launching a new product, try to reach this group effectively. Polish representatives of generation Z read ingredients and appreciate it when a producer gets involved in social and political issues.
  • Young singles (millenials) – a group with little engagement with food brands and a rather low level of trust in the food industry.
  •  Young parents (millenials) – They value brands that are transparent in their communication, which additionally educate consumers and are not indifferent to social problems.
  • Generation X – feel little or no attachment to food brands. They are usually indifferent to their PR communication. 
  • Baby Boomers – They choose what is traditional. They target well-known and proven products, so they are loyal customers. They usually don’t mind a small selection, but value quality. They are very accustomed to the ingredients. 

Lack of scientific evidence

Although this point seems obvious, in everyday PR communication many companies refer to data or studies without citing their sources. In press releases it is common to selectively treat the results of reports and to mention institutes which… have been paid by these companies. Of course, we are not suggesting that this is the case with your brand, but it is worth remembering, because Poles are a really inquisitive nation. The company Aflofarm, which some time ago received a penalty from the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, has learned that. For what? For communicating that their dietary supplement will solve the problem of lack of concentration in Polish children. 

No crisis management plan

When entering the Polish market with a food brand, you can be sure of one thing: sooner or later, a crisis will hit. As we mentioned in the introduction to this article, the food sector is extremely vulnerable to crises and mishaps. We need to prepare for all eventualities in advance. Without a crisis management plan, without daily monitoring of the Internet and without a clearly defined platform for receiving complaints from customers, we will not only spread the crisis across the entire chain, but we will also make all attempts to recover from it chaotically. And Polish customers take a really long time to forgive brands.

If you are planning to enter the Polish market with your company in the food industry, or you just want to build a strong image for your existing brand here, contact us today. We have worked with many clients in this sector and have experience in building long-term PR strategies in Poland. We will be happy to help you too!

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