Australian sweetpotato consumer insights research (PW18003)
What’s it all about?
In July 2019, this investment delivered research on Australian consumer perceptions and attitudes towards sweetpotatoes. The insights and recommendations delivered can be used by growers to use in their individual businesses, while also feeding into future Hort Innovation Sweetpotato Fund initiatives in both marketing and R&D.
The research aimed to:
- Understand the current position of sweet potatoes, in terms of usage and attitudes
- Identify consumer segments to drive growth in sweet potato consumption
- Evaluate the effectiveness of sweet potato marketing and communications.
The research included a quantitative online survey was conducted of 1,200 grocery buyers and a qualitative forum with 32 participants defined as grocery buyers, who do some household cooking, and had bought sweet potatoes in the past month.
Usage and attitudes
The survey showed that the most important aspects for cooking are healthy foods and a variety of meals. Planning and routine plays a major role in deciding what to cook, and people are looking to the internet, magazines and cookbooks for interesting and easy meal ideas.
Those surveyed agreed sweetpotatoes are versatile and easy to use, with nearly all eating them at dinner time and a strong association for them being a winter food. Often roasted, baked or mashed, sweetpotato is used as an accompaniment to other foods as a side dish with other vegetables.
Consumers said they look for good quality vegetables at a reasonable price, and although many people felt they knew how to choose a good sweetpotato, there was variation in the quality characteristics used. Size does matter, and it was felt that a range of sizes from small through to large is good to have.
Participants said the key characteristics of sweetpotatoes are taste, nutrition and versatility, saying they have a sweet, pleasant taste. The unprompted association among consumers was ‘healthy’ and ‘tasty’. Consumers commented that they are nutritious but were not very clear on the reasons why.
Consumer segments and consumption
Surveyed consumers were divided into three categories: regular users (2-3 times per week), medium users (once per week), and light users (less than once per month). The research team found there is an opportunity to increase purchase amongst medium and light users, to significantly impact sales volumes.
Sweetpotatoes need to be on the shopping list at the start of the week as this is when the purchase decisions are made. For light to medium users, sweetpotatoes are not top of mind for their weekly shopping.
Sweetpotato marketing and communications
The fundamentals for sweetpotato messaging were found to be very positive, as a strongly recognisable product that appeals to cooks of all abilities, tastes good and is known to be healthy and versatile.
The research team recommended that a strong consistent communication program to build awareness of sweetpotatoes should include the following elements:
- Orange – distinctive shape and colour vegetable
- Taste – sweet tasting
- Quality – how to choose the best potato for quality and freshness
- Healthy – be specific about health benefits
- Versatile – how to cook in a range of ways.
This project was funded through the Hort Innovation Sweetpotato Fund using the sweetpotato R&D levy and contributions from the Australian Government
Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2020. The Final Research Report (in part or as a whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation, except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth).