Hort Innovation is responsible for investing the sweetpotato marketing levy into a range of activities to drive frequency of purchase and consumption, under the Hort Innovation Sweetpotato Fund. Read on for a snapshot of activities and results from 2018/19.
The activities of the sweetpotato marketing program for the period were designed to drive demand by demonstrating the ease, tastiness and versatility of sweetpotatoes, while highlighting health and nutritional benefits. This included building awareness of sweetpotatoes as not just a winter vegetable, but an all-year-round product that can be used across a variety of meals.
Ekka Royal Show
Australian sweetpotatoes were featured at the Ekka Royal Show in Brisbane during August 2018, with exposure to over 400,000 attendees. The exhibit was located in the Woolworths Fresh Food Pavilion, arguably the busiest pavilion at the Ekka. It included the ‘Kids’ Kitchen’ which involved a hands-on experience of the versatility of sweetpotatoes and samples of sweetpotato fries and frittatas. The response to sampling was overwhelmingly positive. Approximately 25,000 samples were distributed over the 10 days of the show, in addition to 30,000 brochures (including recipes). Some 1500 kids participated in the 150 sessions held.
Australian sweetpotato recipe sampling also took place through two Sydney events – The Essential Baby & Toddler Show in September 2018, and the Pregnancy, Babies & Children’s Expo in May 2019. The ‘Kids’ Kitchen’ saw approximately 7000 samples distributed over the three days of the Essential Baby & Toddler Show, with 12,500 recipe and health brochures distributed and 300 children attending the cooking sessions. The Pregnancy, Babies & Children’s Expo included 29 sessions in total with 200 kids involved, along with more than 5800 samples and 12,000 brochures distributed. Both events received positive feedback, with parents and kids alike enjoying the recipes and the opportunity for a hands-on experience.
To promote and encourage trial and purchase of sweetpotatoes, a national in-store sampling campaign was conducted with 115 sessions in both Coles and Woolworths across July 2018, and again in September to October. Brand ambassadors prepared and cooked sweetpotato fries and offered samples to shoppers along with a recipe brochure. Over the course of the activity, 35,000 interactions occurred, with 25,800 samples given out. There was a trial-to-purchase rate of 37 per cent.
A partnership with Bauer Media resulted in several paid and bonus magazine inclusions across some of the biggest Bauer titles, including the Australian Women’s Weekly, Good Health and Australian Women’s Weekly Food. This also resulted in articles across their online network, including on Now to Love and Australian Women’s Weekly Food. Online digital display ads were promoted across the entire Bauer network of websites, which provided more than 1.76 million opportunities for people to see the campaign, and generated over 4300 clicks on sweetpotato content.
The Parent Brand partnership
A partnership with the Parent Brand, a digital media company that produces parent-related written, video and audio content, aimed to highlight how nutritious, economical, abundant and versatile sweetpotatoes are. This was delivered through video content hosted by former MasterChef contestant Aaron Harvie, whose approach to cooking is based on a holistic family menu.
These videos were supported by recipe editorial which was amplified on the parenting website Babyology’s social media channels. Each recipe housed the co-branded videos and were published to the Babyology website each month. These recipes also featured in the Babyology e-newsletter (100,000 subscribers) and included a content post written by the Babyology editorial team with an accompanying motion graphic video.
A strong focus on digital channels was taken to drive consumer awareness. This saw Australian sweetpotato advertising shown across catch-up TV, YouTube and premium websites such as Taste.com.au, Mammamia and News.com.au. This involved activity in pre-roll, 15-second videos and six-second bumper ads. The activity resulted in more than 2.6 million opportunities to see the content and 88 per cent of viewers watching until the end.
Out of home
Outdoor activity was used to reach grocery buyers nationally through visual placements at retail and on the path to purchase. ‘Shopper media’ such as banners outside major retailers saw a reach of 2.02 million, while digital screens reached 1.8 million consumers near retail outlets.
Public relations (PR) and social media
PR and social media were used throughout the campaign to drive awareness of sweetpotatoes’ versatility across seasons. Social media activities reached 28.3 million Australians across Australian Sweetpotato social media channels as well as other placements.
Facebook performed exceptionally well this year, with a 10 per cent increase in followers and delivery of more than 5.3 million opportunities for people to see sweetpotato content. Instagram saw an increase of 6000 followers over the course of the year, which was a growth rate of more than 100 per cent, and achieved more than 1.8 million opportunities for people to see the content.
PR engagement was also a focus this year, with distribution of a media release, recipes and health fact sheets to popular outlets. This was coupled with activity from social media influencers Leah Itsines and Jacqueline Alwill, who promoted sweetpotato content through their own channels.
An existing partnership with lifestyle influencer Dani Stevens continued in 2018/19. Dani shared several of her recipes on her own social media channels as well as visiting a sweetpotato farm where content was captured and shared through social media channels. The aim of the visit was to raise the profile of sweetpotato growers and saw Dani visit a property in Cudgen, New South Wales, to see what a day in the life of a sweetpotato grower is really like. The video content that was captured from this visit performed well in social media channels, collectively reaching more than 59,000 people with a strong engagement rate of 12.5 per cent.
In 2018/19, a partnership with influencer Amy Whiteford aka Healthy Little Foodies was also continued, with the creation of a series of family-friendly sweetpotato dishes that were shared through social media. Meanwhile, in October 2018, a media event was hosted in Sydney to build key relationships with media and influencers and showcase sweetpotatoes for all seasons. Attendees from top tier publications were able to interact with growers to learn how sweetpotatoes are grown and see firsthand the many ways to use them, including grilling which was achieved through a partnership with Weber. Coverage from the event resulted in 31 media mentions.
Aligned with the event, a user-generated competition was held to find out how sweetpotato fans enjoyed sweetpotatoes over the summer months, and extended the partnership with Weber. The results of the competition were strong, with a 15 per cent engagement rate on Instagram and 18 per cent on Facebook.
These marketing activities are strategic levy investments in the Hort Innovation Sweetpotato Fund