Dom Weaver, communications director at RED, gives Produce Business UK readers the lowdown on why he believes South Africa’s integrated marketing campaign has had a positive effect on the country's fresh fruit sales in the UK
South Africa’s Beautiful Country, Beautiful Fruit campaign recently launched for an eighth year, supporting sales of plums, peaches, nectarines, apples and pears in the UK market throughout the 2015/16 season.
Since the first pilot project on plums ran in 2008/09, the integrated initiative run by grower association Hortgro has helped to highlight South African fruit to consumers via the media and made its produce visible at the point of sale, as well as promoted in other arenas too.
Volume sales have increased in the fruit lines supported by the campaign, perhaps most notably in South Africa’s stonefruit business, whose sales grew more than 55% in the big four supermarkets between the 2009/10 and 2014/15 seasons.
Here, are the main reasons I believe the campaign has been successful to date:
It communicates clear messages: After deregulation in the 1990s, the South African industry set out to identify the factors that make its fruit stand out against other countries of origin, in order to communicate those messages in its main markets.
For the trade, these factors are that South Africa has the shortest shipping time to market, (with positive implications for shelf-life) and its suppliers adhere to international standards on food safety and the treatment of workers.
For shoppers, the message is that South Africa gives them the season’s best tasting varieties, such as Flavorking and African Delight plums, white-fleshed peaches or Forelle pears. In addition, fruit farming has a vital role in supporting rural families across South Africa and the development of the country as a whole.
It’s inclusive: After taking its brief from the South African fruit industry, the campaign works very closely with the supply chain. It involves exporters, importers and retailers in the planning and implementation of the campaign on an annual basis. This is a continually evolving process that gets stronger every year as the main stakeholders have begun to incorporate the marketing support into their own plans and to add their own resources to help achieve the campaign’s goals.
It’s active in multiple areas: The campaign is focused on retail sales, particularly in the UK’s largest supermarkets. This includes point-of-sale signposting, logos on or visible from inside packs to make it easy for shoppers to find the fruit, and to provide opportunities for them to try it for themselves. There is also print and online advertising, PR to generate editorial coverage and social media activity, which marks a relatively recent addition that gives the campaign a direct, open and ongoing two-way conversation with journalists, bloggers and shoppers.
Meanwhile, the campaign features two competitions that encourage schoolchildren and young chefs to learn about the benefits of South African fruit. The Help a South African School initiative sees primary schoolchildren submit their collages about South African fruit and to donate unwanted English language books that are shipped to schools in farming communities across the country. In addition, Cook South Africa! was launched to young chefs in 2013, inviting them to create a three-course menu inspired by South African cooking and South African fruit.
Communicating directly to children, teachers, families and chefs, these two projects give the campaign a reach beyond just promoting at point-of-sale and in the media. They give further depth to the promotion, with the aim of engaging people who in the near future will be making buying decisions in the professional catering and hospitality sector, and for the everyday shopping for the home. Read this article on chef Rowen Darlow, winner of Cook South Africa! 2014, who has been inspired to use more fruit in his cooking.
It has tangible measurements: Everything the campaign does – from sampling, advertising, editorial coverage and even social media – is evaluated and reported back to the South African industry. But the combined effect of this activity on sales is the ultimate measure.
It’s persistent: It is possible to get results in a campaign that lasts a season. But you really need to promote on an ongoing, open and engaging basis, working with the supply chain each year to review and refine the activity. This benefits everybody and it has a permanent and sustainable impact – as the South Africa’s ongoing promotion shows.
Read other articles in PBUK’s Sourcing Spotlight on South Africa:
Improved South African quality helps to put value back into UK produce aisles
Horizons expand for South Africa's ZZ2 as UK market loses supply appeal
Beyond survival: Capespan's MD Dique on how to turn disruptions into opportunities
South African fruit finds favour with London chef Rowen Darlow
South Africa looks to diversify exports, but the UK and EU still remain key