December the 21st, 2023 – The Croatian company Zvijezda has been making quite the name for itself up in Sweden, with excellent overall sales results to boot.
As Josipa Ban/Poslovni Dnevnik writes, this year, the Croatian company Zvijezda has absolutely dominated the BRANDscore ranking. This is otherwise an Ipsos survey that measures brand strength based on marketing performance indicators. This research shows that as many as five of Zvijezda’s much loved products are in the top 10 of the strongest brands in the Republic of Croatia, and the best of all is Zvijezda’s mayonnaise.
Gašpar Novak, director of marketing and development of Zvijezda plus pointed out that quality and innovation are key in maintaining this status. Zvijezda also continues to invest a significant sum of money into both. Novak revealed that they export to twenty markets and that they have recently become present on the Swedish market as well.
The BRANDscore survey shows that in the top 10 strongest brands in Croatia, there are 5 Zvijeza products. What makes people so loyal?
We’re proud that Zvijezda managed to dominate the BRANDscore list, which indicates the strength of brands in Croatia. According to the choice of consumers, among the top 10 brands in terms of strength on the Croatian market, five places went to Zvijezda. The winner is Zvijezda mayonnaise, followed by our sunflower oil in third place, our hard margarine in sixth place, our ketchup in seventh place and our margo in ninth place.
We believe that people recognise the Croatian company Zvijezda’s standards and continuous quality, and this is precisely why they’ve been trusting us for years now. On the other hand, we at Zvijezda really do listen to the needs of the market, we also follow global trends and constantly innovate. When you’re a market leader, there’s no rest, it’s very important to maintain quality and raise the bar higher and higher – which Zvijezda is doing.
How do Zvijezda’s brands stand on other markets, especially those in Croatia’s neighbourhood?
Zvijezda’s products are present on more than twenty markets, the most significant of them all are our export markets in the more immediate region. We can say that we’re already traditionally present in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Slovenia. We’ll be happy to boast that Zvijezda exports to the EU market have grown significantly. Recently, we started export considerable amounts of our products up to Sweden. We want to introduce Swedish consumers to high quality Zvijezda products.
On this track, our goal is to place Zvijezda products on the regular shelves of all major Swedish chains, not only in ethnic (Balkan) stores there. Planet of Plants products can also be found on the Slovenian and Serbian markets. We kicked this year off by entering the Hungarian market, where the Auchan retail chain included the full range of our Planet of Plants line in its offer.
Zvijezda products have been on the Ipsos BRANDscore research list for years quite regularly, only their order varies slightly. What does it depend on?
For its 107th birthday, Zvijezda received the best gift ever, i.e. confirmation from consumers that it is indeed the market leader. As we know, there are exactly five Zvijezda products on the BRANDscore ranking of the top 10 strongest brands in Croatia.
The survey is conducted twice a year and as you mentioned, Zvijezda is always at the top. BRANDscore compares brands of different product categories and is an indicator of brand strength on the market. Different aspects of the consumer’s relationship to the brand are taken into account; from behavioural to emotional. From the actual purchase and use of the product, to the attitude towards the quality of the product and the perception of the brand in the mind of the consumer.
According to the Ipsos survey from September, the strongest brand in Croatia is Zvijezda mayonnaise. How much of this product is sold annually?
Zvijezda Delikates mayonnaise is made from high-quality sunflower oil. It’s made without any preservatives, there’s no added aromas, nor are there any emulsifiers. Zvijezda Delikates mayonnaise has been a favourite of many of us for decades, so it isn’t surprising that it’s the strongest brand. It’s an eternal classic that many generations have grown up with and is a winner of the Croatian quality mark. It also finds its purpose in a wide variety of recipes, from breakfast and lunch to snacks and dinner. This is precisely why mayonnaise is our own star and one of our priority products.
What is the Croatian company Zvijezda’s best-selling product of all?
Research shows that consumers consider Zvijezda mayonnaise to be the strongest brand, followed by sunflower oil, hard margarine, ketchup and margo. Our actual sales also follow similar results.
How important is marketing for sales figures and how much does Zvijezda invest in it annually?
The full name of the department is marketing and development, and it’s clear to all of us that there can be no progress without development. As a market leader, the Croatian company Zvijezda is constantly innovating, therefore the role of marketing in sales results is indispensable. Marketing communications bring information to the market and convey the message to consumers that Zvijezda listens to their needs and responds to them with innovations, thus building a relationship with generations that has now lasted longer than a century.
do innovations in production and flavours affect the sales and maintenance of Zvijezda’s brand image?
Absolutely, yes. This is precisely the indication to consumers that we follow them on the path of their development, we listen to needs and we follow global trends, and when we see an opportunity – we act immediately. As an example, I’ll mention the last two innovations that we offered to our consumers at the beginning of autumn. These are Zvijezda ketchup with 0% added sugar and 50% less calories, and Omegol B1. The new ketchup was created on the traditional recipe of Zvijezda’s existing mild ketchup, it’s prepared from juicy tomatoes, and is enjoyed by everyone who wants to control their sugar intake, without making compromises when it comes to taste.
Zvijezda’s team of experts worked on the development of this product for more than a year. In the whole process, it was most important for us to keep the recognisable taste of Zvijezda’s ketchup, which is why or consumers choose it. Then we’ve got the Omegol line, which has been enriched with a new product – Omegol B1 spread. In addition to the already present Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, for which the Omegol line is known, the new Omegol also contains vitamin B1, which contributes to the normal cardiac function and therefore carries the approved health claim – For heart health.
How much does Zvijezda invest in such innovations and new product development?
Even in times dominated by the greatest business and operational challenges, investments didn’t stop. A significant part of the total budget goes to development. The development department monitors global trends, suggests local moves, and based on that, we act and introduce new guidelines.
How much time is crucial for the branding and “status” of a certain product on the market?
When a product has been present on the market for such a long time, such as Zvijezda sunflower oil and margarine, it’s clear that it enjoys a lot of trust from the public. Trust is precisely the key and it adds value to the product. If we connect emotionally with our consumers, nurture that relationship in the sense that we give them the quality and value they expect with our product, then we can say that we’ve been successful. I believe that time plays an important role when it comes to trust, but time isn’t a necessary factor for every product, of course if there is high trust in the umbrella brand.
The Planet of Plants line on the other hand is a relatively young line of products that also achieves good business results, but doesn’t have a long tradition behind it. One of the reasons for its success is the longevity of other Zvijezda products. On the basis of trust in the umbrella brand Zvijezda, consumers gave a chance to a novelty on the market, plant-based products, a line that quickly proved itself and now achieves excellent results.
How do you respond to new trends involving more health-conscious customers?
We, like many experts in the field of nutrition, are guided by moderate consumption. As I mentioned, we’re also always innovating and improving our range of products.
At Zvijezda, we’re proud of our traditions and numerous innovations that we’ve presented to our consumers, and the Planet of Plants line is one of them. It’s a response to trends, especially among young consumers, who are looking for products that don’t contain food of animal origin more and more frequently. Our line doesn’t contain gluten, milk, eggs or honey. Planet of Plants was created through the joint efforts of Zvijezda and PIK Vrbovac, both companies included top experts in the process and the result is the first domestic plant-based line.
The innovation and high quality of the Croatian company Zvijezda’s Planet of Plants products is also recognised at the international level. The world’s leading market research agency Mintel included Planet of Plants spread with hemp oil and hemp seeds as an example of innovation in the plant-based segment of its report “A year of innovation in butter, spread and oils 2021” in the EMEA region.