Despite the Government‚Äôs 5 a day campaign now being in its 8th year, according to a recent report by the European trade body, Freshfel, fresh produce consumption in the EU and the UK is down ‚Äď again.¬† With fresh fruit intake per capita declining by 6% in 2009 and the consumption of fresh vegetables also down by 0.5%.
But why, with the current trend of healthy eating being more prominent on our TV screens and in our media is:
- Our population getting larger (almost a quarter of adults -24% of men and 25% of women aged 16 or over in England are classified as obese (BMI 30kg/m2 or over)).¬† Source: The Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2010
- Our consumption of fresh produce in decline?
I believe the answer to both of these problems lies in the power of marketing.
As anyone who owns a television, shops at a supermarket, picks up a magazine and turns on a computer will know, the product‚Äôs with the most influential, expensive marketing campaigns usually belong to fast, convenience food companies.
With budgets that far outstrip fresh produce, snack companies can afford to aggressively compete for their market share – leaving the likes of fresh produce well and truly out in the cold.
The obvious knock on effect of these intense marketing campaigns is that:
- Snack food advertising, promotion and our over-exposure to it can (and has been blamed) for the increasing rates of obesity amongst children (A study by the Journal of Law & Economics, suggested that scrapping fast-food commercials could reduce obesity in the US by as much as 18%).
- Less aggressively promoted fresh produce becomes ‚Äėinvisible‚Äô in the market place, or if not completely invisible, unpalatable to many.
So how can fresh produce compete?
Well one way could be to play them (the snack food giants) at their own game.¬† In fact in the US, a group of 50 carrot growers have joined forces with ad agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky, to do just this and they are promoting baby carrots ‚Äėin a way that mimics snack brands like Doritos or Snickers‚Äô.¬† They aim to test the theory that if healthy foods use “the same marketing wizardry as not-so-healthy foods, children would be more like to eat them” (to see more on this: http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2010-08/31/baby-carrots ).
But what if fresh produce suppliers haven‚Äôt got a budget of millions (the baby carrot campaign cost about ¬£16million) how else can we increase the sale of fresh produce?
An answer ‚Äď Social Media.
In the last couple of years, the use of social media has exploded and these days it‚Äôs not just the playground of teenagers.¬† Meeting online is now dominated by twentysomethings plus (over 8 million 20 ‚Äď 29 year olds in the UK regularly using Facebook) and businesses have now started to include it as one of their primary marketing tools. (Source: http://www.clickymedia.co.uk ).
So what are the benefits?
First of all, the use of social media when compared to traditional forms of marketing such as advertising is that it is incredibly cost-effective.¬† Instead of multi-million pound budgets required for adverts, press and publicity, social media campaigns can be produced at a fraction of a cost ‚Äď in fact, setting up an online account is actually free!
Secondly, the major benefit of social media over usual marketing activities is that it gives you the ability to create unique relationships with your customers.¬† Rather than a one-stop message, social media allows you to talk directly with your customers, listen to them and react, immediately.
Social media also allows you to make your brand part of your customer‚Äôs lives.¬† Involve them, respect their opinion, share with them and in return you will get their loyalty, support and they will spread the word to their friends.¬† Word of mouth marketing ‚Äď the most powerful form of marketing a product can have.
Did you know that on Twitter 25% of people follow a brand with 67% stating they would purchase that brand?¬† (Source: http://www.browsermedia.co.uk ).
Whenever you ask people to define ‚Äėpoor customer service‚Äô the usual response is ‚Äėnobody listens‚Äô, ‚Äėnobody cares‚Äô or the classic, ‚ÄėI can‚Äôt get through to anyone‚Äô.¬† Again, when social media is done correctly, businesses can have a more open, trustworthy relationship with their customers.¬† Being responsive and reacting quickly to their concerns will have an infinitely more positive result than a multitude of flash, expensive adverts and press releases.
Actively involved customers are also a wonderful resource for gathering feedback, ideas, inspiration or crowd-sourcing as it is also called.¬† Rather than use an agency to poll a focus-group, use your own committed social media fans instead ‚Äď as well as delivering real results and opinions, involving them in the decision-making will also give them ownership, fantastic for future word of mouth marketing.
Can social media fail or even be a negative thing?¬† Of course it can, especially when it is not done correctly or it is not given the time and dedication that is needed.¬† As in the real world, conversations don‚Äôt just stop, so to keep your customers involved and interested, you will need to do it daily.
Of course, this can be done by a member of staff, but it can also be outsourced.¬† What is important is that whoever is tasked with your social media campaign, they must genuinely engage with and understand your customers.¬† Similarly to the outside world, in social media, the marketer who relentlessly pushes out marketing messages without showing any real interest or engaging with those responding will soon find themselves shunned and abandoned.
So, back to the initial problem, how can we increase fresh produce consumption in the UK?
The answer ‚Äď we must get fresh produce on the map in the social media world.¬† We must engage with our core customers, talk to them in their language, through their medium and tell them the key benefits of fresh produce that is relevant to their lives.
Using social media, fresh produce can compete alongside multi-million pound convenience food businesses – size doesn‚Äôt matter.¬† In fact, the smaller the business the better, the more flexible it is, the easier it can adapt and evolve, keeping itself relevant to their customers‚Äô needs and wants.
If the ‚ÄėI fail at 5 a day‚Äô fanpage on Facebook can have just short 95,000 fans/likes ‚Äď consider the possibilities of an official ‚Äė5 a day‚Äô Facebook page.
Finally, a great example to show how powerful using the right media for the right audience can be is this. When Icelandic Magnus Scheving partnered his famous Lazy Town children‚Äôs characters with Asda, the store saw a 28 percent increase in the sale of their Great Stuff fruit and vegetable range. In fact, in Iceland where the show first started, they are now seeing a downward trend in obesity rates.
So let‚Äôs take fresh produce and engage online ‚Äď our audience is there, we just need to make sure we‚Äôre connecting with them on their terms and in their language!
This entry was posted on Sunday, March 6th, 2011 at 11:09 pm