Hort Innovation is responsible for investing the mushroom marketing levy into a range of activities to drive awareness and consumption, under the Hort Innovation Mushroom Fund. Here’s a quick look at some of the activities and achievements of 2019/20, for both the domestic and export marketing campaigns.
This year was the final in a three-year marketing strategy showcasing the ease, taste and health benefits of mushrooms through the industry's 'Chop Chop' campaign. A comprehensive range of touchpoints ensured that consumers were engaged with the Australian Mushrooms brand throughout the year, including advertising and public relations (PR) through media, ‘always on’ online communications, and in supermarkets. Additional activities to support the campaign included development of creative materials, branding, monitoring and evaluation of the campaign, and support for R&D-funded initiatives such as Phenomenom.
There were two bursts of advertising activity in 2019/20, the first in August through to November 2019 to bolster mushroom sales in the warmer months, and the second in April through to June 2020 to support the stronger sales of mushrooms leading up to the cooler months.
IMPACT OF COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic affected all Australians and the media landscape during the second burst of advertising leading into winter. Outdoor advertising was one of the hardest hit channels as people were required to stay indoors as much as they could. As more people were spending time at home, consumption across other channels including TV, online video, streaming radio, news and lifestyle content increased.
These changing market conditions were considered when planning and pivoting activity in 2020 to ensure that Australian Mushrooms advertising was delivered through the most relevant and effective channels, to successfully drive consideration and inspiration for mushrooms.
In response, a shift was made from out of home advertising to online content partnerships to inspire usage and communicate the versatility of mushrooms. There was also an increased emphasis on audio channels such as streaming radio and podcasts, as more people listened to audio content at home on their computers or smart speakers, versus during commute.
There were slight shifts in brand messaging to increase the relevance of mushrooms’ health benefits during the pandemic, when interests in health and immunity grew. For example, messaging through the news service The Squiz and through articles on Taste.com.au showcased health benefits such as the ability of mushrooms to boost immunity.
These campaign changes were communicated at the time of change to the whole of industry through the levy-funded communications program, in the article, “A changed approach to mushroom marketing”.
During October and September 2019, Australian Mushrooms appeared on regional television in New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and Queensland to drive mass awareness. The campaign appeared in eight out of the 10 best performing shows at the time, including Australia’s Got Talent, The Block and The Bachelor, resulting in a reach of over 3.2 million grocery buyers. Prioritising regional TV enabled cost-effective advertising to reach grocery buyers in non-metro areas and allowed the remaining budget to be utilised through other priority channels in metro areas.
Out of home
Leading up to summer, out of home advertising was leveraged to target consumers on the path to purchase – so that as consumers travelled to the supermarkets, they could be exposed to Australian Mushrooms advertising. The types of out of home advertising included the following formats, reaching nearly four million Australians at least eight times each.
- Retail panels: 1,600 digital panels displayed Australian Mushrooms directly outside major supermarkets, nationwide
- Street furniture: Australian Mushrooms ads were featured on equipment on streets, such as bus stop signage
- Transit: Australian Mushrooms were featured on the sides of 80 buses
- Large format panels: As a negotiated added value, five roadside billboards displayed the Australian Mushrooms campaign.
Radio and online audio
Radio and online audio channels including online radio, podcasts, The Squiz and Spotify were utilised to drive mass awareness of Australian Mushrooms throughout the campaign in 2019/20.
- Radio: Metro and regional radio ads ran for eight weeks in the first phase of the campaign, and metro radio advertising ran for eight weeks in the second. Advertising activity was increased on the weekend and Monday before consumers’ weekly shop.
- The Squiz: Australian Mushrooms partnered with The Squiz, a trusted news service in the form of a daily podcast and e-newsletter reaching young professionals. The listens and e-newsletter reads led to a reach of 715,364 over the two bursts of advertising.
- Podcasts: Australian Mushrooms advertising was streamed during popular podcasts and across the ARN podcasting network, targeting grocery buyers listening to podcasts under the themes of ‘food and drink’, ‘health and fitness’ and ‘parenting and lifestyle’. This advertising resulted in 1.6 million opportunities for people to hear the mushroom-inspired content.
- Spotify: Audio advertising on popular streaming music service Spotify resulted in a reach of 2.5 million people for Australian Mushrooms.
Australian Mushroom video advertising was showed across major catch-up television channels, including 7Plus, 9Now, 10Play, SBS and Foxtel. The top performing shows across the networks that delivered the majority of views included Lego Masters, MasterChef, and My Kitchen Rules.
Another major component of video advertising was across video-sharing website YouTube. The strategy involved targeting consumers through several themes including parents, fitness, foodies, mushrooms, health, and cooking.
This activity's targets were exceeded for the first burst of advertising activity and were then outperformed further in the second burst leading into winter. Due to the surge in viewing of online content during the COVID-19 lockdown, the campaign delivered 14 million opportunities to see the content, double the set target. YouTube advertising was particularly impressive, more than doubling the target number of impressions.
In 2020, media activity was shifted from out of home advertising to a partnership with leading publisher NewsCorp. NewsCorp’s food websites include Australia’s number one food website, Taste.com.au, as well as Australia’s Best Recipes.
The partnership enabled the creation and dissemination of mushroom content, including through recipe videos, online articles, social media posting, e-newsletter features and digital banner advertising. The recipe videos were very successful, bringing to the life how easy it is to create delicious mushroom meals. Out of six videos created, Lasagne-stuffed mushrooms was the best performing recipe, tripling the goal number of views.
Overall, the content partnership led to the creation of bespoke, engaging mushroom content that delivered a minimum 6.7 million opportunities for Australians to be inspired by mushroom recipes.
Social media, PR and brand ambassador
SOCIAL MEDIA AND PR
Social media and PR activity occurred throughout 2019/20, aiming to remind and inspire Australians to cook with mushrooms through engaging yearround content. Social media drove consideration and awareness with consistent posting of mushroom recipes, preparation tips and tricks, and health benefits through Australian Mushrooms Facebook (www.facebook.com/AustralianMushrooms) and Instagram (@australianmushrooms). Vegetarian and vegan mushroom recipes were highly engaged with, showing an increase in value from the consumers’ perspective.
Social activity also enabled engagement and retention of consumers through social media competitions. The first social competition was the #BBQmushies competition to provide summer mushroom inspiration when consumers needed it most. This activity was paired with PR activity, which included sending mushroom hampers to media and pitching them summer mushroom recipes.
The second social competition was #mushroommeals to encourage cooking with mushrooms in a variety of ways, directly following the Mushroom Meal Makeover series (read on for more on this). Together, these two competitions drew 909 entries, delivered 9,000 engagements (likes, comments and reshares), and delivered 149 million opportunities for Australians to see the content as a result.
Overall, social media and PR activities exceeded targets, with a total achievement of 81.2 million opportunities to see over the year.
MUSHROOM MEAL MAKEOVERS
The Australian Mushrooms brand ambassador, Miguel Maestre, provided the brand with delicious recipes and video content, and amplification through his channels, media appearances and consumer events. During this campaign, Miguel was the hero of media and PR activity in June 2020, through his Mushroom Meal Makeovers online cooking series.
Miguel presented a series of video events over June designed to both generate media coverage and drive consumer engagement. Fresh from his win on the television program I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, the timing took advantage of Miguel’s high media interest and growing audience. With COVID-19 restrictions in place, the cooking series was delivered through the Australian Mushrooms social media channels and featured five deliciously different recipes intended to engage and excite consumers about the unique benefits of mushrooms.
In order to build up excitement with the Australian Mushrooms online audience, the events were promoted weekly on the Facebook and Instagram pages (a combined reach of 174,000 followers) and also through the Australian Mushrooms e-newsletter sent to 33,000 consumers. Viewers were also encouraged to cook along with Miguel during the two Facebook Live events, with the social pages promoting the recipe ingredients in advance of the episodes.
The approach was successful in delivering key mushroom messages to tens of millions of Australian consumers. In total, the events and new recipes promoted with Miguel led to a reach of 26 million impressions through 67 pieces of coverage across print, online and social media. Importantly, the promotion was covered by several high-reach print and online media outlets such as News.com.au, The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, Kidspot, and The Courier Mail.
Consumer e-newsletter and website
Monthly e-newsletters delivering mushroom meal inspiration were sent to the Australian Mushrooms database of over 33,000 mushroom lovers. The e-newsletter has an impressive average open rate of 24 per cent (compared to industry average of 19 per cent) and click rate of 17 per cent (significantly above the industry average of 2.1 per cent). These results are due to quick, easy, and delicious mushroom recipes such as the top performing e-newsletter feature of the period, Australian Mushrooms’ Chicken and Mushroom Pie. Furthermore, Miguel Maestre was a major drawcard with content featuring the ambassador accounting for 42 per cent of clicks on the e-newsletter.
The performance of the Australian Mushrooms website also reflects consumers’ interest in the campaign’s mushroom recipes. The e-newsletter and social media channels direct consumers to the website (www.australianmushrooms.com.au), which has had an increase of 45 per cent for total users, and an increase of 46 per cent of visits to the website.
Australian Mushrooms conducted in-store sampling nationwide in Woolworths, Coles and independent supermarkets. The sampling activity took place in two bursts, the first from November to December 2019 to boost sales of mushrooms in the warmer months, and the second from February to March 2020.
Shoppers were invited to trial Mushroom Stroganoff and Mushroom Bolognese Nachos in the first and second bursts, respectively. Everyday meals were chosen to encourage quick at-home adoption and were made vegetarian and gluten-free to ensure as many consumers were able to sample as possible. In addition to samples, shoppers were able to take away a recipe brochure to inspire greater mushroom consumption at home, which were well-received.
The sampling sessions were activated in 250 stores in the first burst, and 123 stores in the second burst, with the latter activity unfortunately cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to planning and implementing the Australian Mushrooms marketing campaign, monitoring and evaluation of the campaign’s effectiveness was also conducted during 2019/20. This provided insights into Australian consumer reactions to Australian Mushroom activities and this research will inform the new marketing strategy and 2020/21 marketing campaign.
These marketing activities are strategic levy investments in the Hort Innovation Mushroom Fund