Hort Innovation is responsible for investing the table grape marketing levy into a range of activities to drive frequency of purchase and consumption, under the Hort Innovation Table Grape Fund. Read on for a snapshot of activities and results from 2019/20.
The 2019/20 domestic marketing campaign aimed to drive awareness of the Australian table grapes season and maintain consumer preference for domestic varieties through a variety of activities.
Public relations (PR)
Aligning with the overarching marketing strategy for table grapes, the role of public relations was to continue encouraging domestic consumers to purchase more Australian table grapes by showcasing the versatility, variety and provenance, as well as their health benefits. The campaign delivered editorial coverage that showcased and positioned grapes as a nutritious, fun and refreshing snack. However, the outbreak of COVID-19 and resulting restrictions impacted media events and coverage (particularly a planned media farm experience), as well as the way consumers engaged with content and what they were putting on their tables. As such, activity was pivoted to respond to this change in landscape.
The outbreak of COVID-19 saw news editorial teams slimmed down and a number of print publications put on hold as the focus was shifted to news content, making any media cut through during this time extremely difficult. Consequently, the decision was made to withhold any proactive media outreach and to redirect this budget into creating and amplifying additional social media content throughout the grape season, to engage Aussies on the platforms they were using the most (see social media update).
Despite this, a few publications directly requested to share content created with Aussie Grapes influencer chef partner Elena Duggan (see p17). In total, 12 pieces of coverage were shared across platforms such as She Defined (view the article here) and Western Australia’s Community News publications shared one of Elena’s recipes across local papers, totalling 11 different publications. In total, over 290,000 Aussies were reached by these publications.
To launch the 2019/20 season, an on-farm media event was planned in Western Australia with key west and east coast media representatives, to drive the Australian provenance messaging. Due to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on travel and ultimately the closure of Western Australia’s boarders to wider Australia, this activity was regretfully cancelled. These funds were redirected into creating and amplifying additional social media content throughout the grape season, to continue to reach Australians while at home.
In February 2020, the Aussie Grapes campaign partnered with chef and influencer Elena Duggan, winner of season eight of MasterChef. This partnership drove coverage and inspired and educated consumers on the different uses of grapes. It involved the creation of three recipes: Grilled Haloumi and Grape Salad with Pistachio Za’atar, Roasted Grape and Ricotta Toast with Walnut Crumble, and Chicken Schnitzel with Grape Slaw. Each of these recipes were shared across the Aussie Grapes social media channels (Instagram and Facebook), as well as Elena’s own social platforms. Three media interviews were planned with Elena to share key messages around the provenance, versatility, variety and health benefits of table grapes. However given the impact of COVID-19 on securing media coverage this was reworked to hosting a series of three live 15-minute cook-a-longs (one for each recipe created) on Instagram, to take advantage of the increase in social media usage amongst Aussies in lockdown. Each of these videos performed exceptionally. The series was viewed by a combined total of over 28,000 people and generated strong interest – with people asking Elena for information on best uses for each grape variety and sharing intent to recreate the recipes. In total 18 pieces of social coverage were generated by this partnership with Elena, reaching over 775,000 people.
The 2019/20 campaign used a mix of content to keep table grapes top of mind for consumers, posting twice per week (on Facebook and Instagram), plus stories to support each post. The key messages that formed the basis of marketing content across social media channels were versatility, variety, provenance and health benefits. In response to COVID-19, the social media communications plan was reviewed to ensure it was appropriate in the current climate, while continuing to inspire Australians with delicious grape content and recipes.
Despite the impact of COVID-19, the 2020 social media program delivered stronger results compared to 2019 with all targets achieved and results across all metrics improved by an average five per cent year on year. Additionally, all results exceeded platform averages, highlighting an engaged consumer audience across both platforms.
Aussie Grapes engaged three co-makers (social media content creators) to develop a combined total of seven new Aussie Grapes recipes. With backgrounds as nutritionists both @ournourishingtable and @livelovenourishaus were chosen to create delicious and healthy recipes, targeting key consumers.
Meanwhile @frommylittlekitchen was utilised to target families through family friendly recipes. In response to COVID-19, the co-maker recipe briefs were re-focused to align with changing consumer needs and considerations during lockdown. These three key areas of focus included: healthy meals and snacks, comforting dishes, and family-friendly meals.
Each of the recipes were shared on the Aussie Grapes Instagram and Facebook pages, as well as the co-makers’ own social media channels to leverage their own highly engaged audiences. In total, the co-maker partnerships generated 10 social media posts and reached 580,000 people.
Across the entire social campaign, the Aussie Grapes Facebook page (www.facebook.com/AustralianGrapes) generated 402,056 impressions (that is, the number of times content was seen), reached over 319,000 people (that is, the number of accounts that saw the posts) and generated over 76,400 engagements (that is, the total likes, comments, shares, saves, link clicks), and provided over 65,771 video views. On Instagram, Aussie Grapes (@aussiegrapes) generated 472,678 impressions, reached over 427,700 people, and generated over 118,600 engagements. The Instagram stories feature also provided an additional 677 impressions and reached an additional 567 people.
Entering the second year of a three-year marketing strategy, the objective of the export marketing program was to continue protecting the premium positioning 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
Engaging the supply chain in export markets is critical to the success of growing demand for Australian table grapes and an effective way to do this is through trade promotional seminars. These events provide the chance to give seasonal updates to buyers, retailers, wholesalers, importers and media. Seminars were held in six markets across seven cities in Vietnam, South Korea, Japan and Indonesia during early December, and in the Philippines and Thailand in mid-February. Fifteen Australian companies sent representatives to these seminars.
Jeff Scott, CEO of the Australian Table Grape Association, represented the Australian industry at the events, providing an overview of the Australian table grape season, food safety standards and supply chain management. In total, over 1000 individuals attended the events and the overwhelming response was 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 China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines 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. The program delivered promotions in 642 stores and 398 sampling sessions with 27 retail partners. This resulted in an estimated gross merchandise value (fruit sold during campaigns) of $6,248,923. There were more than 430 million consumer impressions through social media, PR and e-commerce activities and 296 media clippings. The return on investment was more than 9.75 to one, or 975 per cent – an extremely strong result, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
In China, a total of 135 sampling sessions were held across two retailer partners, City Super and Ole, in April and May 2020. To raise the profile of Taste Australia table grape activity, WeChat was used to announce the arrival of grapes in market, while also educating on health benefits and varieties. This included providing information on the fruit being in season, the growing regions, safety and cleanliness, tips on how to select and consume grapes, nutritional benefits and retailer information to drive people to purchase with intent. Austrade also reposted Taste Australia’s table grape articles to its WeChat account, which boosted the overall performance and increased exposure.
In the Philippines, point-of-sale materials were produced and distributed to a total of 101 retail stores. To drive sale volumes, shoppers were incentivised with a gift with purchase across 46 stores and e-commerce platforms. For those who bought more than 3kg they received an eco-friendly Taste Australia branded tote bag. This saw the sale of 14,910kg table grapes.
The impact of COVID-19 saw more consumers turn to online platforms for grocery shopping, including premium fresh produce delivery services Crate2Plate and Baytown’s Produce. These platforms were incentivised with 500 of the gift with purchase tote bags each (for purchases of more than 3kg) and the brands also shared a Taste Australia table grape video and promotion on their websites as well as their Instagram and Facebook accounts. A total of 970 tote bags were distributed and approximately 2910kg of table grapes were sold through this promotion.
To drive media coverage, a media release, fact sheet and branded media kit containing Australian table grapes were provided to 80 media outlets and influencers, resulting in 33 media articles that had a reach of more than three million people combined. Three key opinion leaders were also engaged to champion the health benefits of Australian table grapes across their audiences. In total this paid coverage reached 9,944,033 consumers across Facebook and Instagram.
Gift boxes with Australian table grapes were sent to 80 premium local influencers, to encourage them to film and photograph the package and showcase the grapes on their social channels. This content was then shared across Taste Australia’s own local Facebook. A total of 67 influencers shared content and this reached 11,133,206 people.
In Thailand, a co-promotion activity with the Victorian government was launched across 1700 Tesco Lotus stores, which included live in-store activity, point-of-sale materials, gift with purchase incentives and promotion by key opinion leaders. This drove broad awareness that Australian table grapes were in market, with the remaining activity supporting this message and driving purchase. The remaining campaign included exclusive Taste Australia point-of-sale material across 340 Tesco Lotus, Siam Makro, Tops and Foodland stores as well as promotion of incentives and sales on retailer social media that drove 70,919 engagements.
Activity was further promoted through influencers who shared recipe content on their social media – reaching 740,819 people – while gift packs of Australian table grapes were provided to media, driving 10 pieces of media coverage, totalling 3,415,845 reach. Key stakeholders were also gifted, including the Prime Minister of Thailand. The combined impressions of conventional media, retailer social media and influencers was more than 87 million.
Social media activity on Taste Australia’s Thailand Facebook and Instagram channels rounded out the activity and resulted in 3.1 million impressions and 739,400 engagements/
In South Korea, the campaign was delayed from late February to early April on the advice of retailers due to the impact of COVID-19. Throughout the campaign footfall in stores was lower than usual, however online and TV shopping rose.
The gross volume of table grapes exported to South Korea this year was more than double that of last year, with an estimated 450 containers imported.
The volume increase provided more opportunities to sell table grapes through new platforms, such as TV home shopping channels K-Shopping and Shinsegae Home Shopping. These programs sold $700,500 in table grapes over six sessions. Meanwhile, the in-store sampling program sold $255,175 in table grapes, delivering a total sales result across activity of $955,675.
Strong awareness was driven by revitalised point-of-sale materials that strengthened the link between Australia and table grapes for non-English speakers by featuring Australiana iconography such as kangaroos and koalas. These commanded premium locations and supported a sampling program across three key retailers.
This year’s campaign also included a strong social media element to drive the awareness and education that retail sampling would usually achieve with the audience. Content was published across Taste Australia Korea’s Facebook page with paid media targeting ensuring the key audience saw the content. The results yielded 1.25 million impressions and over 324,000 engagements.
In Japan, in-store sampling was prohibited due to their COVID-19 lockdown, however point-of-sale materials were allowed, and importer Kobe Yoko rolled out promotional materials at 16 stores in Okinawa, a remote area almost unaffected by COVID-19. This was the first time the campaign was run in Okinawa, with AEON and MaxValu retailers participating in the promotion. Instead of sampling, point-of-sale materials were increased and in-store TV monitors used to broadcast a video featuring Jeff Scott, shot on an Australian table grape farm.
More than 30 pieces of media coverage were secured across general news and health, lifestyle, business, and family media to drive awareness for the new table grape season. Three of Japan’s most popular foodie influencers were also engaged to share recipes featuring Australian table grapes across their Instagrams, which had a total of 293,800 followers.
To drive the awareness and education that retail sampling would usually achieve, a social media campaign across Taste Australia’s Japanese Facebook and Instagram accounts was deployed to reach people at home. This activity resulted in 3.9 million impressions and over 884,000 engagements.
In Vietnam, the campaign was quickly modified to account for COVID-19 restrictions, with the removal of retail sampling, and a focus on tactics such as pointof-sale materials across 94 retailers, gift with purchase incentives, digital advertising, key opinion leaders and influencers, and social media.
The campaign successfully saw an overall sell through of 72,807kg of Australian table grapes, driving total revenue of $794,239. Digital advertising on key Vietnamese websites reached 3,084,954 while media articles saw an engagement of 133,000 and product seeding and educational posts by KOLs drove 66,148 engagements. The in-store activities including a display contest and gift with purchase promotion drove 216,800 interactions, while the gift with purchase helped sell through 17,000kg of grapes.
Social media drove awareness of table grapes in market through paid targeting deployed through Taste Australia’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. Content was highly educational and creative and included the deployment of video and even an Instagram filter. This activity achieved 5.7 million impressions and drove two million engagements.
In Indonesia, this year’s campaign was reduced following a delay in the release of import quotas by the Indonesia government, resulting in Australian table grapes not arriving in market until late March. This issue was overlaid with challenges related to COVID-19, with shopping centres in Indonesia closed, foot traffic restricted to 50 per cent in retailers, and a move to home delivery and online shopping as a result.
The reduced campaign included a strong social media element to drive the awareness and education that retail sampling would usually achieve. Content was deployed across Taste Australia’s Facebook and a newly established Instagram account, and supported by content amplified through AEON’s Instagram. The activity on Taste Australia’s own channels reached 7.6 million impressions and 3.2 million engagements.
These marketing activities are strategic levy investments in the Hort Innovation Table Grape Fund