Hort Innovation is responsible for investing the cherry marketing levy into a range of activities to drive awareness and consumption both in Australia and in the industry’s key export markets, under the Hort Innovation Cherry Fund. Here’s a look at some of the activities and achievements of the 2020/21 program.
The overarching focus of the domestic marketing strategy was to extend the demand for Australian cherries beyond the Christmas period by repositioning them as a luxury fruit snack. The aim was to encourage people to eat more cherries more often – to drive frequency of purchasing and the amount bought to build incremental volume demand.
To deliver this, 2020/21 saw a range of activities such as a retail mentor and monitoring program, a new communication brand campaign across radio, proximity to shopping centre advertising panels, digital and social media and state-based co-promotional activities.
Cherry mentor program
Now in its third year, a retail mentor and monitoring program was conducted in Woolworths and Coles. As in the previous season, the objective of the mentoring program was to reduce fruit loss through shrink and waste, convert shrink into sales, and improve the overall performance of the cherry category through educating staff.
A total of 250 stores were involved in the program from November 2020 to January 2021 across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Core to the program was educating produce staff on best practice methods of managing the cherries in-store including displays, fruit quality, stock availability, storage locations and conditions, rotation practices and fruit age.
Photos were taken at each visit and advice was provided to store staff through daily and weekly reporting to retailer category mangers on compliance and quality of fruit. Weekly data was made available to the cherry industry to monitor how product was being handled and what the opportunities were for the industry to move greater volumes of cherries through the largest retail outlets.
A total of 2750 store reports (up from 512 in 2019/20) were generated throughout the campaign. Overall, significant improvement on cherry quality was being reported across the 2020/21 season with stock rotation, both in the back of store and for the prepacks on display being reasonable with no main concerns on fruit quality or issues.
The 2020/21 season saw the launch of a new domestic marketing campaign to grow the relevance of Australian cherries outside the Christmas period and to get more people eating them more often. With activities across a range of media channels, the campaign targeted main grocery buyers aged 24 to 65 with a new brand message of ‘Your Summer Fling’, which positioned Australian Cherries as an ‘every day’ premium treat.
To drive top of mind awareness, a radio campaign ran from late November 2020 to mid-January 2021, targeting consumers during the work commute, shopping and weekends. One 30-second and two 15-second radio commercials were produced and aired nationally on the Australian Radio Network (ARN), including high-reaching radio stations such as SmoothFM, Nova, KIIS1065, and WSFM. A total of 482 spots were aired and reached 2.4 million Australians at least one time and within this, 1.4 million were reached at least two times.
To remind consumers to purchase cherries on the path to purchase, outdoor advertising panels were placed in proximity to supermarkets and grocery retailers to drive a strong call to action and keep cherries top of mind as shoppers entered and were on their way to stores. A total of 2145 panels were featured throughout the campaign period reaching a total of over 3.64 million consumers with an average frequency of 18 times.
A partnership with media publisher Newscorp was undertaken across high-reaching food and recipe platforms Taste.com and Delicious to drive mass reach and frequency of the brand message and get consumers thinking about using cherries across different eating occasions.
The activity created educational content and excited people to use cherries in their cooking, bringing cherries and cherry recipes top of mind. On both websites, Australian Cherries branded advertising, educational articles and editorial featuring cherry recipes and key messages were used and further supported by social media to reach more viewers.
This activity delivered a total of 74,413 page views and during December. Cherry key word searches were also 54 per cent up YoY on Taste.com.au and was the 28th most popular search term indicating a growth in consideration of cherries from consumers. Digital display delivered over 1.35 million impressions (number of opportunities to be seen) with a total of 1,954 clicks and a click through rate of 0.14 per cent, surpassing the industry average of 0.06 per cent, indicating that the branded content and displays were engaging and prompting consumers to find out more.
Social media influencers were leveraged to drive advocacy for cherries and provide inspiration across different consumption occasions throughout the season. From November 2020 to February 2021, Australian cherries partnered with 8 key influencers, including lead influencer, Tessa Boersma (season 11 MasterChef runner up), and 7 foodie and lifestyle influencers, each with a following of between 20,000 – 40,000 people.
Each social influencer engaged the target audience with inspiring content which showcased cherries as an everyday snack across the summer season and highlighting different occasions to have cherries at home, on the go, or ways to use as a gift across the festive season. Each influencer created 3 in-feed posts and 12 Instagram stories with a total of 91 pieces of content posts across the campaign period, delivering 472,046 impressions and an average engagement rate of 7.95 per cent (surpassing the social benchmark of 2 to 5 per cent) suggesting that the content and audience was highly engaging.
Retailer media channels (including front of store screens, magazines, online search and display banners, rewards and social media channels) were leveraged to drive consideration and conversion to purchase with shopper. All retail activity ensured that cherries were top of mind and cut through in grabbing consumer’s attention during the busy summer period.
A range of events and promotions designed to drive awareness of the Australian cherry season and to extend the sales period pre- and post-Christmas were rolled out across the country in a localised, state-based approach.
New South Wales: A social media and online campaign was executed to increase awareness and appeal of cherries grown in Orange, to drive intent to visit and purchase cherries direct from growers. The campaign developed online content which appeared in several digital platforms and was published in the Christmas edition of Australia Women’s Weekly Food and Now to Love magazines. Posts across Facebook and Instagram increased awareness of the NSW cherry season and where they could go to pick cherries which was communicated further through the Orange360 website.
Victoria: A public relations and social media campaign was executed to increase awareness of Victorian cherries including seasonal availability, selection, storage, uses, nutritional qualities. In total, 19 pieces of media coverage were secured, including 16 online hits, two print titles, and one piece of radio coverage. Ten foodie and lifestyle influencers were engaged and shared content demonstrating recipes, usage ideas and farm content, generating over 7000 likes and 610 comments in total.
South Australia: Activities were aimed at generating excitement around the local cherry season through social media and working with key businesses to build upon the tourism and visitor experience of ‘pick your own’ and shed door sales. This was promoted through the Cherry Map which showcased where consumers could sample fresh cherries.
Restaurants and eateries across the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu region were invited to participate in the Summer Cherry Fest by showcasing dishes featuring cherries on their menus. There were 16 eateries in SA that showcased cherries on their menus, complemented by 25 pick your own and shed door sales cherry orchard venues promoting cherries.
Participating orchards and eateries were provided with signage and point of sale branding to promote the event, as well as social media collateral. Through the Cherries SA Facebook page there was an organic reach of 6,630 people with 410 engagements.
Tasmania: A seasonal produce guide featuring cherries was developed to drive the purchase of cherries at farm gates farmers/produce markets, events, and to see cherries added to menus of cafes across Tasmania.
A launch event was held with Hon. Guy Barnett MP, Minister for Primary Industries launching the guide. This launch event received coverage across multiple above the line media platform including on ABC (radio and television), Win News, Southern Cross Austereo (radio and news), the Mercury News Paper ad Tas Country Newspaper. Some 8000 copies of the guide were printed and distributed to key participating businesses.
Taste Australia International Marketing
Promotion of Australian Cherries was undertaken in South Korea and China under the Taste Australia retail marketing program. For both markets the focus was on launching the Australian season in November for mainland cherries and following up with a second launch in mid-late December to support Tasmanian growers. The key selling point and benefit used for Australian Cherries was airfreight freshness via short transit times compared to other imported cherries such as Chilean.
South Korea: In South Korea, a public relations campaign was used to launch the season which included a photo opportunity with outgoing Ambassador to Korea, his Excellency James Choi, the article featured in top tier news publications including MBN, a major economic news broadcaster and National Assembly Newspaper and over 171 media clippings.
To drive the awareness and education of Australian cherries in market, a social media campaign was executed across Taste Australia’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. In total, 36 social posts reached 528,667 and 430,951 engagements.
Influencer marketing activities included the engagement of two influencers on Instagram who posted unique and enticing content to a combined reach of over 2.8 million followers. The first influencer posted in December as mainland cherries arrived in stores and the second influencer posted in January as Tasmanian cherries arrived. Together the posts achieved 78,750 engagements with 260 positive comments including questions asking where Australian Cherries could be purchased.
China: In China, a social media campaign and online chat platform was leveraged to drive awareness of Australian Cherries in market. Online content and paid digital advertising banners in Wechat was used to target consumers in tier one cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen) where consumers have higher purchasing power than in other areas of China. The campaign delivered some strong results with the paid advertising reaching 363,023 consumers with a strong call to action.
These marketing activities are strategic levy investments in the Hort Innovation Cherry Fund