Case Study: Partnerships as a key marketing strategy

Cat Gazzoli, Founder of organic baby food brand Piccolo, discusses how strategic partnerships served as part of her marketing mission.


Company: Piccolo
Date founded: April, 2016
Employees: 10
Sector: FMCG

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Grassroots marketing is something we really value. Activities with partners, sessions with parent groups, small shows and/or larger festivals, are all areas where we receive feedback from parents and can provide meaningful interactions.

Aside from the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), we also worked with smaller niche stakeholders who were good associations but ultimately some stakeholders are right at certain times but not at others. At times the smaller partners did not have the reach but had great values, and on the smaller partnerships, we took a more lenient means on the return on the ROI. There are all stages of the journey, and different stakeholders were helpful at the very beginning of our journey and others are relevant for mid-way through. We most enjoy getting to work with businesses and the people in them, and who actually as businesses have similar values to us at Piccolo.

We would like to say that all of our sampling efforts were rewarded, however there were definitely times when we made mistakes. That is ok as long as you learn from those mistakes. One sampling activity we saw an 8 percent redemption rate with incentives (which is actually quite high, the average is usually around 4 percent) then with another we saw 0.4 percent redemption! In retrospect, we offered our products in a particular area too early when our retail distribution wasn’t as widespread, so parents couldn’t do much as they couldn’t find us in their area.

It's good to monitor multiple metrics when sampling your product as there can be many ways to measure the success and it's not all about data. It's also about word of mouth and gut instinct on what you think is working for your brand. Partnering with the NCT has been such a positive experience and we take our partnership with them very seriously. They not only help us build trust with parents but we also get to give back to the NCT by promoting their charitable objectives on pack and supporting their individual branches.

We hear from parents across the country every day so we are very rooted in our customer and their insights and the things they tell us we could be doing better. We always ask. Feedback is a gift.

Our launch into Asda in the autumn of 2016 was definitely a major turning point for Piccolo. It’s a fantastic retailer which really understands the baby category on all fronts. With its support and increased distribution it gave to the brand, Piccolo was able to reach many more parents very quickly. With this change came a growing level of the importance of being available online for parents, as many began to connect with us via our social channels, wanting more conversation with the brand.

Like a lot of companies, especially in the parent and baby space, we ensure we regularly interact with and engage parents online through our social channels. We are also lucky to have in addition to the NCT, other very well established partners; such as Waterbabies, Hartbeeps and Buggyfit that continue to increase our reach and allow us to form relationships with parents, to help them on the journey of first foods in the early days of parenting.

Like any relationship, partnerships take time and effort to manage well and the company has developed in such a way that prioritises partnerships. We allow for at least one full time team member to be committed to making sure all aspects of the partnership run smoothly and our partners are well supported.

Successful marketing often requires you to go with your gut. The world has become so data and ROI driven. People work with people and people buy from people. Marketing – that word can have negative connotations; people can assume it means pushiness. For us, we created something we love that we think others might love too. Marketing lets people know it's available to them as a choice.

Companies that have a passion for making a positive difference in the world, a genuine social mission, I believe these are the companies that will get ahead in 2017. Take that mission and spread it to the world; make valuable partnerships with like-minded businesses and listen to what your customers are asking for.