Hort Innovation is responsible for investing the summerfruit marketing levy into a range of activities to drive awareness and consumption of the four fruits included in this category (peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots) under the Hort Innovation Summerfruit Fund. Read on for a snapshot of activities and results of the 2019/20 domestic and export marketing campaigns.
The objective of the 2019/20 domestic marketing campaign was to drive seasonal awareness and consideration of summerfruit by inspiring fruit adorers and variety hunters with the taste, variety and sensory experience of Australian summerfruit. This was achieved through three key activities: content creation, public relations and social media activity, and in-store sampling.
For the 2019/20 season Aussie Summer Stonefruit partnered with MyFoodBook to develop exclusive recipe content, images and videos for use across the Aussie Summer Stonefruit social media pages (Facebook and Instagram), as well as digital and print media. A total of eight new recipes were developed and photographed, with five targeted at domestic consumers and three considering export consumers (specifically, China, Thailand and Malaysia). Additionally, six instructional cooking videos were developed to demonstrate how to create the recipes and ultimately inspire consumers to eat more Aussie Summerfruit. All recipes developed were also amplified on the MyFoodBook owned website, which has a growing community that reaches 5.5 million people per month.
Public relations (PR) and social media
Social media and PR activity were used to engage current buyers and summerfruit lovers (young families and older SINKs/DINKs (single income no kids/double income no kids) with compelling content to encourage them to purchase more Australian summer summerfruit more often. This involved communicating messages around seasonality, taste, health and nutrition, and versatility. Throughout the course of the campaign, 82 pieces of coverage were generated across traditional media and social media, resulting in a total of 13.9 million opportunities for Australians to see the summerfruit-inspired content across print, digital and social media.
To launch the 2019/20 season, in early December 2019 Aussie Summerfruit hosted 20 key media and influencers at a breakfast event in the Sydney CBD. Attendees included top tier media outlets and influencers such as Woman’s Day, Australian Women’s Weekly, Woolworths Fresh Magazine, Channel 7’s Sunrise Dietician Susie Burrell, and MasterChef 2019 winner Larissa Lakchi, among others. Throughout the event guests enjoyed a bespoke summerfruit breakfast menu, heard from guest speakers including summerfruit grower Rod Dalton who provided an update on the 2019/20 season, Accredited Practising Dietician (APD) and Hort Innovation R&D Manager Jemma O’Hanlon, who educated guests on the key health benefits of summerfruit, and Head Chef Mike McEnearney who took guests through a house-made summerfruit jam tasting session to demonstrate the versatility and different ways to enjoy summerfruit. The event generated fantastic uptake on social media with media and influencer posts reaching over 739,000 viewers. Coverage of the event and recipes provided on the day was also shared in OK! Magazine’s February issue and both of Woman’s Day February and March issues. Together these publications have a total reach of over one million people.
In January 2020, Aussie Summerfruit hosted Nine Honey media journalist Jane de Gaff at two summerfruit farms in Victoria (CAN Orchards and Conti Orchards), to capture educational content on the provenance of Australian-grown summerfruit, as well as the growing, picking and packing process. Following the visit Jane shared a detailed piece on the paddock to plate journey of summerfruit. The article includes video content that Jane captured on the day and is full of tips for consumers about the differences between peaches and nectarines, as well as how to pick the ripest and sweetest fruit. The article went live on 9Kitchen and was shared on the home page of nine.com.au, reaching a combined total of over 5.4 million people. The full article can be viewed at www.bit.ly/peachesnectarines. At the farm, a series of videos and images were captured, as well as informative grower interviews for future use across both the domestic and export marketing campaigns, to ultimately educate and connect summerfruit lovers with the paddock to plate journey.
Aussie Summerfruit engaged two high-tier food and lifestyle influencers (@sugaretal and @nourish_naturally) to create three new Aussie Summerfruit recipes. The objective of the activity was to spread awareness of the Australian Summerfruit seasonality, taste and versatility. Both influencers’ posts performed well with @nourish_naturally’s caramelised peach crumble cup recipe reaching a total of 16,991 people on Instagram, while @sugaretal’s apricot and pistachio friands, and plum and nectarine pavlova recipes reaching a combined total of 23,751 people.
The 2019/20 social media campaign used a mix of created and curated content to keep summerfruit top of mind for consumers, posting twice a week on Facebook and Instagram plus stories to support each post. The content aimed to drive messages about summerfruit’s versatility, seasonality, health benefits and provenance. In total, the Aussie Summerfruit Facebook page (www.facebook.com/AustraliaSummerStonefruit) generated over 1,038,000 impressions (that is, the number of times the content was seen, which exceeds the KPI of 800,000). While on Instagram, Aussie Summerfruit (@aussiesummersummerfruit) generated 165,751 impressions (exceeding the KPI of 90,000).
In 2019/20 there were two key in-store activities held, a quality trial to test the influence of early season fruit quality on the repeat purchasing of consumers, and in-store sampling to test the response of consumers to different fruit quality levels. Using nectarines, the overall objective of the activity was to determine whether fruit of a consistently better eating quality, particularly early in the season, would drive more demand for Aussie Summerfruit across the remainder of the season, and how fruit available on shelf was meeting consumer’s needs.
Twelve premium and mainstream Woolworths stores within Sydney were involved in the sampling trial during February and March 2020. Sampling staff were trained on product attributes to promote to consumers and asked consumers brief questions to determine their feedback around the fruit being sampled, their intention to buy and whether they were planning to buy nectarines in that shopping trip anyway. Throughout the sessions the sampling staff recorded Brix levels (the measurement of sugars in a piece of fruit) for each piece of fruit, colour and firmness of the sample, consumer liking of the sample, and any additional comments from the consumer, and sales data across the period of the trial was tracked at participating stores.
Overall, the study found that consumers are very aware of when the summerfruit season is, showing that previous marketing campaigns aimed at seasonal awareness have been successful. However, while previous marketing activities have focused on educating consumers on ripening, there is still little awareness that fruit needs to be ripened at home, leading to fruit eaten when it is hard and tart. Softer fruit was generally liked more than harder fruit. It was determined that a minimum Brix of 11 was high enough to lead to consumer satisfaction.
Taste Australia is Hort Innovation's whole-of-horticulture brand used to increase the profile, sales and consumption of premium Australian horticulture products in export markets. In 2019/20, the summerfruit Taste Australia retail marketing campaign was conducted in China, Thailand and Malaysia. The campaign was designed to raise awareness of the availability of Australian summerfruit, educate consumers on the benefits of the product, drive conversion and purchase, and build a fanbase to endorse and advocate for Australian summerfruit.
Marketing activities included media and season launch events, in-store sampling, retail promotions, social media (including a WeChat campaign in China), influencer/ key opinion leader campaigns, live-streaming, competitions, and e-commerce. The campaign across all three countries delivered more than AU$1 million in gross merchandise value (fruit sold during activities), engaged more than 50 million consumers and delivered a return of investment of more than 4:1.
The summerfruit campaign coincided with three co-promotional activities which also began with the season launch at the end of 2019 and escalated into the lead up to Chinese New Year in January. All activities had a strong start, however marketing stopped during the height of COVID-19 around the beginning of February and then softly resumed at the end of February at which time the fourth co-promotion commenced. While activities had to be monitored due to COVID-19 – only slight modifications were required during the campaign and being able to continue with activities meant that the product that was in stock was being promoted and sold.
MARKETING IN CHINA
The campaign started in China with a launch event at City Super’s flagship store TaiKooHui in Shanghai. City Super is one of Taste Australia’s key retail partners. Celebrity chef Brian Tan showed media, influencers, and shoppers how to get the best out of Australian summerfruit, running a live cooking demonstration that showcased creative and indulgent food ideas. ICS TV attended the event and filmed a feature for their Money Talks program, which aired twice. Social media coverage was through WeChat and Weibo through key opinion leaders (influencers) in attendance, Brian Tan and City Super’s own channels.
Retail promotions and sampling took place across three major cities including Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou and for the first-time the program extended into six Northern China cities including Jinan, Qingdao, Dalian, Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan and Shenyang. During the campaign 312 sampling sessions took place across 24 stores with our key retail partners including Ole, City Super, and BHG.
Another first for the program was a robust e-commerce campaign in partnership with Hema Fresh – another key retail chain in China. The campaign included a 20-minute livestreaming session, summerfruit gift-box giveaways and an interview with a leading Australian stone fruit grower. Around one tonne of peaches, nectarines and plums were sold during the session – breaking Hema’s existing sales record.
OTHER EXPORT MARKETS
In Thailand, launch activities also took place at the start of the season in Thailand hosted by Tesco Lotus at their flagship store Sukhumvit 50 and in Malaysia at AEON with food demonstrations and a traditional Yee Sang event (prosperity toss or to toss up good fortune) – the dish is used during Chinese New Year festivities to bring good fortune, prosperity and health. The campaign continued in Thailand with 85 sampling sessions across 26 stores including Tesco Lotus, Siam Makro and Tops.
In Malaysia, 172 sampling sessions including 60 complimentary sessions ran across six retailers: AEON, Tesco, Village Grocer, Jaya Grocer, GCH Retail and TF Value in 63 stores. The promotional activities ran for a consecutive 87 days.
The Summerfruit China Co-Promotions project is an initiative by Hort Innovation to support Australian exporters and growers to implement effective marketing activities to drive awareness, trial and overall sales of Australian summerfruit products in China. It is part of the overarching Taste Australia framework to drive premium positioning. In 2019/20, this involved Australian companies Montague, T&G Global, LPGCutri and China Marketing Solutions on behalf of Queen Garnett were awarded various levels of funding for the season.
Montague organised a wholesale launch to demonstrate their support to their trade customers and build confidence in their products which helped to secure and drive sales for the season as well as gaining new customers and partners including gaining traction in North and South China regions. Tasting sessions were a core activity, with a total of 200 sessions completed between the two brands and a conversion rate of 21 per cent for Croc Eggs and 43 per cent for Montague Tree. Promotions focused on educating consumers and customers on the quality of fruit produce from Australia and the benefit of buying Australian fruit and all packaging highlighted Australian grown to spotlight country of origin. Montague’s staff also represented Taste Australia and the summerfruit industry while in-country at events and interviews including Hema and the launch event at City Super. This provided an opportunity to have a grower present to promote the Taste Australia brand.
T&G Global focused promotions on The Chosen Ones® (TCO) nectarine brand with promotions taking pace from December 2019 through to January 2020. The campaign aimed to increase brand awareness and interest in China by reaching half a million people including distributors and consumers through activities including roadshows, retail promotions, online promotions, social media, interactive games, competitions, and direct marketing. Just under 50 tonnes of product was shipped to support the program which took place across wholesale markets, supermarkets, and socially through WeChat, Tikor and Little Red Book. The campaign delivered a reach of more than 830,000 across all channels – 166 per cent above campaign objectives.
LPG Cutri Fruit Global leveraged the summerfruit marketing campaign in China to promote their product lines, drive brand recognition, increase year-on-year sales, secure premium shelf location and drive consumer preference and loyalty of Australian summerfruit over competitors. They worked with Xianfeng, a significant retailer in China, to run co-promotional marketing activities between February and March 2020. While the global COVID-19 pandemic impacted campaign messaging, execution, and timeframes, activities progressed with various adjustments. Activities included developing co-branded packaging and merchandising material, retail promotions across 50 Xiangfeng stores and online promotions across their 1,850 stores, e-commerce and social media through WeChat.
Despite the COVID-19 challenges, results were positive, with instore sales volumes up 38.5 per cent Year-on-Year (YoY), online page activity up 53 per cent YoY, and online sales up from 13.8 per cent to 23.5 per cent YoY. Consumers also provided positive online commentary around look and flavour.
CHINA MARKETING SOLUTIONS
China Marketing Solutions undertook the co-promotional activities for Queen Garnet which entered the Chinese market for the first time in 2020. The campaign consisted of three components: brand asset development (including a video) and distribution, media collaborations, and a social media campaign. The return on investment for this campaign was 8.3 and the key takeaway for Queen Garnet for this first season is that Chinese consumers prefer sweet, big, and a good-looking plum. They have very low tolerance for acidity levels, blemishes, and small sizes. Education around the health benefits for Queen Garnet is key for future activities.
These marketing activities are strategic levy investments in the Hort Innovation Summerfruit Fund