Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Mar-Apl 2014 Contents is being conducted and the services are
enhanced, the provider is establishing
channels and relationships directly with
consumers. This is not marketing in its
one-way directional sense; it's about
building healthier, happier communities
by working together.
THE VALUE PROPOSITION
When the marketing team sits down to
produce content for the website or a
brochure suite for frontline staff, they need
to be thinking value. How do this company
and its services create value for consumers
as distinct from the guys up the road?
other job seekers have more reason
to shop around for employers who are
successfully marketing services and
responding directly to the needs of
consumers: the companies with energy
and a bright future.
WHAT'S ON OFFER?
The scope for product and service
differentiation is being blown wide
open with CDC. Core services will be
differentiated by expertise, empathy,
technology and responsiveness. Then there
is the great range of extended services and
products that can improve the consumer
experience: from nutritious meals delivered
to the door with a fresh newspaper to
guided social opportunities and new kinds
of mobility enhancing exercises.
Expect innovation from the private
sector right along the value chain from
hospital discharge or consultation to high
care. The advantage existing providers
have is trust. However, this won't be
enough to compete effectively against new
market entrants, many of which will offer
specialised services to niche consumer
segments. How then, to make sure that
the services you produce are quickly and
eagerly taken up by consumers?
RESEARCH AS ENGAGEMENT
Every bit of cultural research our agency
has conducted for hospitals, aged care
providers and equipment suppliers
emphasises the importance of reflecting
community context in care. Place is
very important to personal identity: the
relationships, the physical space, the quality
of services and entertainment. People want
to be proud of the care they receive and
they want it to be relevant culturally. This
represents opportunity for the aged care
provider seeking to differentiate.
At the facility level, providers need to
understand consumers, in order to plan
services that have high appeal, generate
a constant revenue stream, are worthy of
investment and reduce business risk. The
consumer knows best. They know what
they want, where and when they want
it, and how much they are willing to pay.
Consumers willingly share information
and actively assist in co-creating products
and services when they can see the
shared purpose. For that reason, in aged
care, market research must be practiced
as engagement. Forget the 15-question
surveys and the benchmarked 'satisfaction'
research; providers must get out into the
community and connect with people.
The goal of every provider is to develop
services that are immediately purchased
by consumers. To do so, the opinions of a
cross section of consumers, referrers and
influencers must be input into processes
for product and service development,
marketing and company branding. It starts
with a defined need and succeeds with a
rewarding experience. Good businesses
get this right and thrive.
The method of Research as
Engagement means that, while research
A value proposition is a promise of
value to be delivered. It's the primary
reason a consumer should buy from you.
It should explain:
• how your product solves consumers'
problems or improves their current
• what functional and emotional benefits
the consumer will experience via your
product or service (or employment);
• how your product or service is different
from others in the market. n
Rhod Ellis-Jones is principal of PR and
marketing agency Ellis Jones.
Innovation in action
Finding a way to provide appealing
pureed meals led to the creation of a
new venture, writes Natasha Egan.
WHAT STARTED OUT as a student research project to investigate the viability of producing
moulded smooth pureed meals for aged care has resulted in Victorian contract caterer
United Hospitality establishing sister company Textured Concept Foods (TCF).
The individual components of moulded smooth puree meals are produced by TCF to
reflect the shape and appearance of the original cooked food, such as a chop, chicken
piece, carrot or pea, and snap-frozen.
Customers order individual components to create a meal that reflects the menu
being served to other diners, says Darren Benfell, director, United Hospitality and TCF.
Customers need only thaw, heat and serve, he says.
The new service won the caterer joint first prize in the catering innovation category at the
2013 OSCAR Aged Care Hospitality awards.
While moulded food is not a new concept, dietitian and TCF director Lisa Sossen says
trials by many aged care providers had shown logistic and preparation factors made it
too costly. Sossen, who is also an adjunct lecturer in nutrition and dietetics at Monash
University, had previously worked with United Hospitality conducting student food service
placements for fourth year dietetic students.
In 2012, she decided to "dust off the moulds" and get students to investigate their
viability. The study involved one of the aged care facilities that United Hospitality services.
Nutrition content, waste, cost per serve and labour were tested. Students also surveyed
residents, families and catering staff. "At the end of the project, the residents did not want
to go back to the way pureed foods were served and United Hospitality wished to continue
production," Sossen says.
Further research and development by United
Hospitality chefs resulted in an extensive range of
products being provided across the majority of
sites United Hospitality catered. In November
2012, TCF was established.
"Restoring the dignity back to meal times
and making meal times more enjoyable have
become our biggest motivators," says Sossen.
"Aged care is a service sector in which
a very intimate service is between
people. Employees are therefore
the supreme embodiment of your
brand and consumer experience."
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