Hort Innovation is responsible for investing the table grape marketing levy into a range of activities to support demand-building in export and domestic markets under the Hort Innovation Table Grape Fund. Here’s a quick look at some of the activities and achievements of the 2018/19 program.
A new three-year domestic marketing strategy kicked off for table grapes in 2018/19, focused on driving awareness of the Australian season with consumers through a variety of activities.
During 2018/19 there was direct engagement with major retailers to better understand and manage the grape category. The key goal was to assist in better aligning the supply chain, to ensure the quality of grapes produced, supplied and handled onto shelves was meeting consumer expectations – with the ultimate aim of growing demand for the category.
Social media and public relations (PR)
Aligning with the overarching marketing strategy for table grapes, the role of social media and PR was to continue to drive seasonal awareness of Australian table grapes and to keep them top of mind for consumers. This was done through engaging traditional media in the print and online space with new and interesting stories around grape production, sharing information on the health benefits of table grape, and reminding consumers about the delicious taste of table grapes via on-trend and easy recipes.
Three key messages formed the basis of marketing content across the table grape social media channels: provenance, nutrition and health, and versatility. The Australian Grapes seasonal social media campaign kicked off in January 2019 across social channels including Facebook (www.facebook.com/australiangrapes) and Instagram (@aussiegrapes). The activity reached over 400,000 people across the channels with 185,000 engagements (reactions, comments, shares, link clicks).
A partnership with well-known nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill was developed to achieve cut through with key media publications. For this activity, Jacqueline created two new recipes where Australian table grapes were featured as the ‘hero’ ingredient: a Grape and Goats’ Cheese Galette and Grape, Cauliflower and Halloumi Salad. Jacqueline was a great brand fit for the campaign, as she provided delicious and unique recipes for media use, while also further promoting the table grape message to her engaged audience across her own ‘The Brown Paper Bag’ channels. The recipes resonated well with the media, as they were simple, fresh and on trend with consumers.
In addition, Co-maker recipe content was used to engage lifestyle media with new and unique serving ideas. Co-maker is a tech platform which engages influencers that share the values of a target audience to co-create brand content that is relevant and tells stories in a way that is authentic and genuinely engaging. Recipes produced through this channel included Almond Butter and Grape Sandwiches, Frozen Grapesciles and an Overnight Matcha Chia Oatbran featuring grapes.
Through these activities, 13.5 million people were reached with 17 pieces of table grape coverage featured across some of Australia’s leading online and print publications.
Western Australia print media
In an effort to drive awareness of Western Australia’s table grape season to the locals, table grape advertising was placed in the monthly Fresh Magazine insert of The West Australian newspaper from January 2019 to May 2019. Fresh Magazine has 430,000 readers per issue.
A new three-year export marketing strategy for table grapes also began in 2018/19, focused on protecting the premium position of Australian table grapes by connecting deeper with customers and consumers in key export markets. Several activities were undertaken that targeted priority markets as identified by industry.
Trade promotional seminars
Seminars were held in three countries, with the first event held in late January 2019 in Korea, followed by events in Osaka, Japan in late February, and Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in Vietnam in early March 2019. These events provided the opportunity to engage the supply chain in key export markets and give seasonal updates to buyers, retailers, wholesalers, importers and media.
Jeff Scott, CEO of the Australian Table Grape Association, represented the industry at the events, providing an overview of the Australian table grape season, food safety standards and supply chain management, as well promoting the Taste Australia retail campaign. A contingent of Australian exporters also attended the seminars and this was favourably received by the audience.
In total, 266 individuals attended the events across the three countries, with feedback being received that the events were highly worthwhile and helpful with decision making and forging relationships.
Taste Australia retail marketing
A number of consumer-facing Taste Australia retail activities were delivered across the prioritised export markets of Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, China, South Korea, Japan and Vietnam during the 2018/19 season. Taste Australia is the whole-of-horticulture brand used to increase the profile, sales and consumption of premium Australian horticulture products in export markets.
Broadly, the table grape activity under the Taste Australia banner included launch events, in-store activations, PR activity and social media.
- In Indonesia, 236 sampling sessions were held at eight different retailers across 32 stores. To raise the profile of Taste Australia table grape activity, one hero media event was hosted in partnership with the retailer AEON which had 60 importers, media and influencers in attendance, as well as representation from the Australian Embassy. Three complimentary events were also held on the floor at two major retailers, Food Hall and Hypermart, with more than 110 guests attending. A press release and fact sheet were distributed to both trade and consumer media and seven content pieces were generated with 2.6 million impressions.
Meanwhile, 10 influencers were engaged to attend events and share official social posts. From this, 29 Instagram posts and stories were created, which generated more than 2.2 million total impressions and 8,500 likes and comments. The Taste Australia Facebook page also posted 12 social assets and shared four influencers’ posts. The campaign achieved 318,105 reach and generated 346,771 impressions.
- In the Philippines, 189 sampling sessions were held at three key retailers across 31 stores, which increased sales during the promotion period by between 13 and 52 per cent. ‘Media seeding’ (getting content in a number of channels where people are likely to find it) was conducted with 78 selected media outlets and influencers. Australian table grapes were sent with a press release and fact sheet to media. Awareness was raised through subsequent coverage, with 109 pieces of content produced and shared to an audience of some 11 million.
Meanwhile, the Taste Australia Facebook page for the Philippines posted 12 social assets and four Q&A games, where the was the opportunity to win gift certificates to purchase Australian table grapes from a local supermarket chain. A total of six million people were reached and more than 1.3 million engagements generated.
- In Thailand, 186 sampling sessions were held at six retailers across 59 stores. A launch event was organised with Tesco at the beginning of the season, kicking off a one-month ‘Best of the Month’ campaign. This activity was spread to all formats of Tesco stores in Thailand (close to 1900 stores), which extended the reach to 47 million target consumers. Tesco reported a 242 per cent increase in Australian table grape sales during the promotion period.
As part of the long co-operation between Taste Australia and retailer Tops, a popular gift with purchase of a Taste Australia shopping bag was launched again in the table grape season with the purchase of 2kg of grapes. This promotion was well received by consumers.
- In China, 136 sampling sessions were held at two retailers across 10 stores. Designed to break the mould of traditional promotional activities to gain consumer interest, an event was organised with a gelateria in Guangzhou, Tons of Frozen Treats, during the Labour day holiday and Canton Fair. Two Australian table grape sorbets were introduced as a limited offer for one week: Sweet Sapphire with homemade rose petal jam and Great Green with lime. Sampling of fresh Australian table grapes was conducted outside the store. To further promote the event, eight Weibo influencers were invited and generated 12 posts that garnered 3.8 million impressions. Through cross-promoting of their content on Dianping (which is a social platform similar to Zomato in Australia), the event became a hot topic within the first 12 hours – pushing Australian table grape content onto the platform’s homepage through organic traction alone.
- In South Korea, 2019 was the second year under the zero-tariff regime, seeing significant growth of 43 per cent more product through participating retailers during the campaign than during 2018 and with Australia claiming strong ground against competitors Chile and South Africa. Some 162,000 consumers were reached by in-store sampling across 45 stores across retailers E-Mart, Hyundai and Shinsaegae. There were also 20 pieces of social media content created via key influencers in the market and 29 news clippings achieved through PR. Taste Australia was also honoured to receive the Australian Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, H.E. James Choi, as part of a planned opportunity at an E-Mart store. The Ambassador and VP of E-Mart toured the retail display and took photos with Australian table grapes for sharing in the media, while sampling was also taking place to capture consumer attention. Meanwhile, Taste Australia social media posts raised the profile of Australian table grapes during the promotions by highlighting flavour and quality, recipes, new varieties, health benefits and links to stockists.
- In Japan, a total of 55 sampling sessions were held at 10 retailers across 46 stores, with a gift-with- purchase promotion launched at the same time that saw handkerchiefs given out with every 200g purchase of Australian grapes. Further promotion was conducted through a press release and fact sheet distributed to 100 media outlets which generated 38 pieces of media coverage. The Taste Australia Facebook and Instagram accounts posted 12 social assets. A total of 1.8 million people were reached. Two Japanese recipe and foodie influencers on Instagram were also engaged to create recipe ideas using Australian table grapes. Eight pieces of content were created which generated more than 148,500 total impressions and 9000 likes and comments.
- In Vietnam, the campaign involved three key activities: in-store sampling, social media and a high tea for media representatives. Sampling occurred in 75 stores across retailers Aeon, Big C, Klever Fruit and EPCO. For social media, the Taste Australia Facebook and Instagram accounts posted 12 social assets. A total 794,684 people were reached with 1.08 million impressions generated. Q&A games were used to increase the follower base and engagement.
Meanwhile the media event, in the form of a high tea, was held with eight key media in attendance. The event was held at Boomerang Bistro Bar, an Australian-themed restaurant, where dishes and drinks featuring Australian grapes were showcased.
A press release and fact sheet were distributed with an Australian table grapes gift box to media representatives. Awareness was raised through five key pieces of media coverage, including a TV spot, with an audience of more than one million people reached.
Building a new digital strategy for Japan
To develop a digital marketing strategy for Japan underpinned by consumer insights, a research project was conducted in 2018/19 to gain an understanding of how to best position Australian table grapes in the Japanese market and to summarise key market trends and the current digital landscape. Some insights from the research included:
- A focus on nutrition and health is a key consumer trend in Japan
- Japanese consumers are buying Australian table grapes because they are perceived to be good value for money, have an edible peel and are seedless (the latter two attributes are seen as the most appealing qualities of Australian grapes)
- Safety, health and deliciousness are key attributes to promote to consumers
- Local Japanese grapes have strong premium positioning and are preferred for gifting, as their quality is perceived to be higher and their packaging sophisticated
- ‘Premium’ and ‘ideal’ have different meanings when it comes to grapes
- The social online platform LINE should be a priority channel to target consumers
- Japanese consumers need confirmation that the peel is safe to eat.
A clear differentiation strategy is needed to set Australian table grapes apart from other imported grapes. To do this, the marketing strategy must leverage Australian provenance, health and safety attributes and the ideal growing climate. This research will inform development of a digital media strategy to roll out in the 2019/20 season.
These marketing activities are strategic levy investments in the Hort Innovation Table Grape Fund