The marketing mix in the food industry
A McCain Foods case study

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Page 5: Promotion

A further demonstration of the 'It's All Good' ethos is McCain Foods' ethical stance on promotion. McCain makes a commitment not to advertise to children under 12 years old.

It also ensures that the retail labeling on its products carries clear information on levels of fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar to help shoppers choose healthier options. Its labeling is in line with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) traffic light scheme and the food industry's Guideline Daily Amounts (GDA).

Promotion falls into two main categories:

  • Above-the-line promotion
  • Below-the-line promotion.


Above-the-line promotion is paid-for and includes traditional advertising routes such as television, radio and the press. These are good for carrying marketing messages to a large audience. However, it is less easy to measure the impact of these channels, for example, whether a TV advert has increased sales.

Special displays or positioning in stores or advertising on supermarket trolleys are also examples of above-the-line promotional activity at McCain Foods.


Below-the-line promotion can take many forms and is usually more under the control of the business. Typical examples include events or direct mail. McCain uses a combination of below-the-line activities including:

  • door-to-door leaflet drops or books of vouchers which give customers discounts over a period of time. These help to attract consumers and establish brand loyalty so the consumer buys the product again.
  • email newsletter for consumers. This creates a relationship with consumers, which is unusual for a B2B organisation. It not only allows McCain to communicate directly with and listen to consumers, it also enables the business to collect information, for example, about their lifestyles and product choices. This is used for feedback, research and promotions.

PR and sponsorship

Public relations (PR) is a form of promotion that is concerned with developing goodwill and understanding between organisations and the public. For example, McCain uses its relationship with UK Athletics to deliver 'Track and Field' roadshows across the UK. These emphasise the link between healthy food and healthy lifestyle. Again, this aligns with the 'It's All Good' message.

McCain also takes part in different types of sponsorship, such as:

  • TV show Family Fortunes. This brings the McCain brand to a wide audience through a popular family programme.
  • McCain Athletics Networks which encourage young people to get involved in the sport through local clubs. This further supports the company”s approach to balancing calories in with calories out.

McCain also aims to promote better understanding of where food comes from through initiatives such as The Potato Story. This is an educational resource that helps teach children about how potatoes grow and their place in a balanced healthy diet.

McCain Foods | The marketing mix in the food industry