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Fundacja Firmy Rodzinne

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8 lutego 2021

Top Family Brands in Poland. How do they emphasize the family spirit?

The Poznan-based Family Businesses Foundation has prepared a report covering the communication methods adopted by the best-known brands in Poland that are also associated with the family business. The results of the analysis of communication activities, encompassing 32 brands, highlight two effective strategies.

 Making oneself stand out is the key from the point of view of long term success – which seems obvious. Nonetheless, the marketing practitioners have been arguing for years, as to how this could be done. The business’s family spirit and family identity can both be viewed as an effective means to create business PR. The Family Businesses Foundation (Fundacja Firmy Rodzinne, FFR) that frequently publishes reports on entrepreneurship surveyed the Poles, concerning their knowledge of family businesses. Then, working with the Konrad Bugiera Doradztwo Komunikacyjne PR firm, the Foundation carried out an analysis of the channels that family businesses use to reach their audiences to emphasize the family spirit. The conclusions may be useful for anybody willing to reinforce one’s position based on one’s heritage and acquis.

– A reputable family brand based on beliefs and values that have been there for decades is, frequently, a uniquely relevant “treasure” for the business, that becomes especially important in circumstances of succession, notes Katarzyna Gierczak-Grupińska, President at the Family Businesses Foundation. – It is worth to demystify the succession a bit. One needs to get used to a perception that succession does not always involve a transfer of command and responsibility into the hands of the younger generation. It may sound paradoxical, being said by somebody who has been working to the benefit of the family businesses for 16-years, and who has been a co-owner of a two-generation business. It is worth to keep the business in the hands of the family. Nonetheless, this is not always a straightforward task with a certain result – however, it may can be planned by the owners, Gierczak-Grupińska added.

Indeed, the brand is a valuable asset that is a part of the business reputation. It may also be a factor influencing the sympathy and preferences of our customers. This can be seen in the approach towards their heritage, adopted by businesses that have lost their family profile. Among the top 32 family brands, 7 of those ranked can no longer be viewed as a family business – one has been ranked among the top 3 businesses listed.

This refers to Solaris. The company has had new owners for 2 years now. They are not related to the Olszewski family – the founders who have established Solaris 25 years ago. Wedel is also ranked close to the top – this business changed the ownership several times, with the owning party having their seat abroad. Despite the above, one can still find a section on the website, referring to the history of the company, to the first owner, and his successors managing the business before it was nationalized.

What is the best means to emphasize and highlight the family business image? No simple answer can be provided here. Nonetheless, two common strategies in this area can be distinguished.

– The first „selective” approach involves the use of one or two channels, but with a high degree of involvement. The second approach is an expansive one, utilizing as many communication channels as possible, to create a family narrative, said Konrad Bugiera, owner at the Konrad Bugiera Doradztwo Komunikacyjne communication consultancy, leader of the team that gathered the data utilized within the report. The top five most recognizable brands include ones that use almost all of the communication channels available, but also ones that use just one or two channels. This means that they all have made the right choice, Bugiera clarifies.

The record-breaking entities, when it comes to using the family values in communications, are the businesses working in the food industry. Grycan leads the pack (ranked 1st among the most reputable businesses, and saying the most about its roots – using 6 communication channels). Koral (ranked 5th, 5 channels), Mokate (13th place, 5 channels), Roleski (ranked 19th, 4 channels), and Madej Wróbel (ranked 27th, using 5 channels) are also significant here.

The intense use of the family character is visible on the websites. The authors of the report have counted the mentions of the family profile of those businesses, with Fakro (24) and Mokate (22) leading the pack, overtaking the rest significantly.

So, can you get something more than just sympathy, emphasizing your family profile? The previous research conducted by the Foundation has shown that tangible benefits can be created as a result of such an approach. One-third of the Poles declare that they would be willing to pay a bit more, when choosing between two comparable product, to buy the one manufactured by a family business. How much? More than half of the respondents claim that a 5-10% price increase would be acceptable. For 20% of them, a 20% increase would not be a problem.

The family business is one of the key customer segments at Bank Pekao. The fact that Polish entrepreneurs and their families are the shareholders is relevant from the point of view of the credibility and continuity of the given business. Businesses as such are often passed on to the next generation. At Pekao we are proud of the fact that we have been working with family businesses that have been active for several years now. The personal involvement of the owners and their families is also incredibly relevant here. Businesses as such can achieve spectacular successes in business and they often contribute to making Poland’s reputation on the international arena highlighted and promoted, Piotr Górski, Sales Management Department Director at the SME Division at Bank Pekao. The Bank has become the report’s partner this year.So, do the Poles recognize just the businesses delivering consumer products as family ones? Even though it may seem so at the first glance, B2B businesses can also be found in the group: Blachy Pruszyński, PBG, Kulczyk Investments, and Solaris. Is the family profile of the business as important, as in the case of the relationship with the end customer? The commentators quoted in the report seem to agree that it happens so. Furthermore, the cautious approach the family businesses exhibit when facing risks and long-term planning strategies both make them credible partners, both for the banks, as well as for the investors. This may translate into better investment deal.

The long-term benefits pursued by the family businesses and the resulting approach also makes the banks motivated to support the successful succession processes.

–  Family Businesses are driven to create value and develop with a long-term perspective taken into the account. This makes them a stable and attractive partner/client for the Bank Pekao, and banks in general. In Poland, the family businesses are approaching the threshold of succession. These businesses have quite frequently been established 3 decades ago, at the beginning of Poland’s economic transformation. Now is the time, at those businesses, to engage in a generational change or to get involved in a process of selling the business to the new owner. This is a comprehensive process and we frequently observe the businesses to experience trouble making the succession process effective. Thus, we try to support our customers, offering advisory and consulting services, and solutions within that scope, notes Marek Majsak, Head of the Corporate Customer Department at Bank Pekao.

The „The Strongest Family Brands in Poland” report has been created thanks to the supporting partners, including Bank Pekao S.A., Filipiak Babicz law firm, Egon Zehnder, Wardyński i Wspólnicy law firm.

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Note on methodology:

The report discussed is based on two-staged research. Stage one involved a quantitative survey conducted in Poland, as a whole, where the respondents were asked to list five family businesses out of the blue and to respond to questions on the opinions related to the perception of the family character the businesses may have. The survey used a test group of N = 1,004, selected from the SWPanel panel, in a manner that would keep the sample representative, when it comes to demographics. The quantitative survey indicated 32 family brands were spontaneously listed by at least 1% of the respondents. When it comes to those, a content analysis took place online. The family character of the business and the related communication strategies were verified. 7 elements were subjected to analysis: logo, website – the landing page, and other webpages, products, the appearance of the HQ, social media content, media statements made by people associated with the brands. The analysis has been carried out by the team at the Konrad Bugiera Doradztwo Komunikacyjne communications consultancy firm. The report contains the key discoveries and conclusions associated with the analysis in question.

About Family Businesses Foundation:

Fundacja Firmy Rodzinne is an NGO that selflessly supports family businesses creating a space for an exchange of experience and integration in the circles of family entrepreneurs.

What it is that the Family Businesses Foundation does?

The foundation has established an umbrella brand –  “Drzewko Firma Rodzinna” (Family Business Tree), gathering almost 1,000 entrepreneurs who actively highlight the family profile of their companies.  Find out more: www.drzewko.org

FFR is the leading Polish partner of the international Early Warning Europe initiative. 120 entrepreneurs and experts – EWE Mentors – provide confidential and free of charge support for entrepreneurs in distress. Within the framework of the related RescEWE project the foundation is creating recommendations for the EU to change the entrepreneurial training curricula, so that crisis management expertise is properly highlighted. The foundation is also organizing mentoring meetings at family businesses. FFR is also designing and carrying out workshops and clinics, and educational meetings for the entrepreneurs, making the healthy work culture and prevention common, within the framework of the Healthy Family Business project. Finally, the foundation is also organizing „out-of-the-box” events that step beyond the limits of one generation and one state – this refers to the Congress of Generations and the Competencies of the Future Festival.

FFR remains active and consequent in creating the Family Businesses community in Poland, gathering together businesses that are eager to adopt a responsible approach towards themselves and their surroundings. The Foundation is reiterating the importance of environmental care and the necessity to respect the Earth so that future generations could use its resources and hospitality.

The Foundation is constantly supported by its patrons: YES Biżuteria, GELG, ENEL-MED, Blachy Pruszyński, Maxim, Biofarm, Mokate, Pekabex, Majster-Pol, GoWork, Olivia Business Centre.

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