Gathered Game - Upping their game

Southland artisan ‘wild venison’ salami producer Gathered Game exhibited at The Christchurch Food Show for the very first time in April 2017, gaining new customers, new store outlets, and new sales.

“The Food Show really is a great event that attracts a wide range of participants, including people interested in trialling new foods, and it was certainly very successful for us,” says Chris Thorn, Managing Director and Founder of Gathered Game.

“I was particularly impressed with the show’s online platform that hosts each exhibitor’s company page, so you can feature your products, specials, links to your website, etc. It’s really encouraging that the company has invested in this technology to support the show.”

All the venison for Gathered Game’s all-natural products is hunted in the wilds of Fiordland by a team of certified hunters and then handcrafted in Lumsden using a traditional dry ageing process and locally sourced natural ingredients.

“So we had a really compelling story to tell and a unique range of products to sell – but we needed to get the word out to the wider public,” says Chris.

“We made a business decision to increase our marketing efforts and attend The Food Shows. Being a South Island producer based in Southland, The Christchurch Food Show was the logical first location.

“The decision process involved doing the maths on the costs associated with attending, including travel, fuel, staff, product, and the likely return we would get from sales. Plus the Food Show sales manager provided some very good information and stats that helped us make the decision.”

Although it was his first-ever Food Show experience, Chris was immediately encouraged by the positive ‘vibe’ of the Christchurch show and the enthusiastic attendees.

“Overall, we found the experience really good. It was great to attend a large show in the South Island, and we were happy with the decision. The show had a good vibe, people were trialling and buying our products, and the artisan area where we were located was really well presented.”

Chris attributes their success at the show to a mixture of good support from the event team, with staff on hand to jump on any issues or questions straight away, and their own efforts to promote their presence at the show. Before the show Gathered Game alerted their audiences about it through social media posts, gave away tickets to the show online, and promoted their show-only product specials.

“We also ran a live hamper prize giveaway at the show as a way to gather contact details from participants, plus we did some traditional media marketing. We did the hamper prize draw at the end of the show and dropped it around personally to the winner before we left Christchurch.

“After the show we utilised all the emails we had collected to send out a mass marketing communication thanking them for attending the show and offering them a special online product deal, which was highly successful.

The face-to-face marketing aspect of the show played to the company’s strengths, as the team is extremely passionate about their products and found it easy to inspire visitors. 

“We loved to have a chat to the South Island customers who were so close to where our product was made and where we hunted the wild deer. It was great to be able to talk about the outdoors, the hunting spots, and the South Island with people who also love this area as much as we do.” 

Gathered Game also took the opportunity to get local retail outlets on board with a pre-show mini-campaign targeting Christchurch stores.

“Prior to the show we went through a process to review potential stores in Christchurch that would probably like to stock our range. We sent them emails and, in some cases, invitations to come join us at the show. Most of them accepted and came along, and those that did then went on to stock our products in the stores around Christchurch. 

“We now supply four new stores in Christchurch with another couple coming online soon so it was a great way to get out of Southland, explore a bit of the country, and add some great new retail outlets to our existing ones.” 

Chris reckons the show was definitely worth the investment of time, money, and sweat but only if you’re prepared to put the effort in and make the most of it.

“The best elements are being able to interact and sell directly with your customers and the motivation it gives you to get out there and reach out to new customers, including new retail store customers.

“If you put the effort into your stall and into your pre- and post-show marketing efforts, then it will be a success. I would encourage first-time attendees and small producers to look at low-cost options for attending the show, like we did. After all, it’s always positive to get your product out there into the market, to talk to customers, and to make a bit of impact.”

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