As a relative “minnow” in national retail, gourmet jam and condiment producer Beerenberg has faced a significant challenge both with consumers and stockists in competing with - and differentiating itself from - the marketing efforts of multi-national competitors.
In 2008, the company made the decision to largely abandon its advertising effort and to replace it with a World Wide Web-led communication program, strongly supported by public relations.
The company’s renewed website – www.beerenberg.com.au – responds to an increasing consumer desire for ‘authentic’ food and the growth in the number of food websites and blogs, spearheaded by its unique Provenance Pathway feature which allows Beerenberg customers to trace the origins of ingredients used in their product, while also meeting the chef responsible for its production.
The Provenance Pathway provided Hughes Public Relations with the vehicle to promote and to draw traffic to the website – effectively providing the launch momentum required to ensure the long-term success of Beerenberg’s web-based strategy.
The results of the public relations program exceeded expectations with substantial print and online articles generating significant traffic to Beerenberg’s new website. Visits to the website doubled in the week of the launch and have remained significantly higher than before the launch.
Early in 2008, Beerenberg observed a trend towards consumers seeking more knowledge of where their food came from.
This trend had been slowly gaining momentum on the back of “authenticity” and the “food miles” phenomenon but with the global economic downturn, consumers also were increasingly seeking out Australian-made produce and wanting to know more about their food source.
As an Australian family-owned and run company, Beerenberg wanted to capitalise on this trend, and reach more consumers with this message.
Hughes Public Relations has worked with Beerenberg for five years and the company sought our advice in developing a strategy in which to engage a broad range of consumers with the Beerenberg brand whilst also delivering the Australianmade and owned message.
Hughes Public Relations undertook desk-based research to review other organisations around the world which had provided a tool for customers to track the origin of their products. A number of companies were identified, but none involved the manufacture of a food product.
Research was also conducted to understand the underlying trend towards ‘authentic’ food and studies demonstrated that consumers were increasingly seeking ‘authentic’ products (1,2).
Beerenberg’s competitors were also researched, which added to our knowledge of the market, dominated by imported jams and large multi-nationals, and led to us developing the campaign around the ‘authenticity’ of the Beerenberg brand compared to its competition.
Hughes Public Relations also researched the top 50 food bloggers and food websites across Australia as well as websites focused around the subject of ‘innovation’.
As a result of the research, and the trend towards consumers wanting to know more about where their food is sourced, Beerenberg embarked on a project to re-design its website to incorporate networking tools such as Facebook, YouTube and Flickr. At the same time Beerenberg wished to capitalise on the move towards ‘authentic’ food and looked to create a tool to enable their customers to trace the origin of the ingredients used in Beerenberg products.
The new website was launched on March 2, 2009 and included a web-based tool – called the Provenance Pathway – to enable its customers to enter the barcode from their Beerenberg jar to find out further information about the ingredients.
1 Datamonitor. ‘Authenticity in Food and Drinks: New Insights into consumer Attitudes and Behaviors’; Dec 2006
2 Spencer, S & Kneebone, M 2007. Food Map: A comparative analysis of Australian food distribution channels, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra
- Key Food Editors/Writers/Bloggers – key food editors/writers were chosen as a target public because they were considered to be ‘key influencers’. By making them aware of Beerenberg’s Provenance Pathway tool it was hoped to gain positive awareness for the brand and its efforts to be ‘transparent’ to consumers.
- Food/Innovation/News websites – were targeted as the Provenance Pathway tool is web-based and we felt the news of this new tool would be easily spread via websites and blogs.
- Female Consumers – with a specific bias towards females in the AB quintile who score highly on education level, income and occupation. They are likely to be the main grocery buyer in the household.
- Male Consumers – As this campaign was web-based male consumers were also targeted through food blogs and traditional media.
- Retailers – retailers were targeted with the aim of securing shelf space in supermarkets nationally for the Beerenberg range.
The Communication Strategy was designed to achieve the specific objectives of the campaign by targeting potential customers, driving them to the Beerenberg website to try out the Provenance Pathway and to open up a dialogue with them through the blog, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.
Hughes Public Relations was closely involved with the development of Beerenberg’s new website, providing advice and input at each stage of the process and naming the product tracing feature.
In the lead-up to the launch of the new website and the Provenance Pathway tool, Hughes Public Relations worked closely with Beerenberg and the website developers, Adelaide-based Enpresiv (www.enpresiv.com) to develop a plan of launch communication activity.
As the Provenance Pathway is an online tool, and the new website included interactive features, a strategy was developed to engage with an online audience, as well as print media.
The planning process involved:
- Development of media targets – including food bloggers and ‘innovation’ websites/writers;
- Development of key messages;
- Development of interactive features for the website to open up a dialogue with customers.
The Communications Plan was designed to achieve the specific objectives of the campaign by targeting food editors, trade media, food bloggers, ‘innovation’ and news websites and potential customers.
A proactive media publicity program was developed and rolled out as part of the strategy. A key component of this program was targeting leading food bloggers, news and ‘innovation’ websites to electronically spread the news of Beerenberg’s newly launched Provenance Pathway.
The launch of Beerenberg’s renewed website and the Provenance Pathway took place on March 2, 2009. In the two months prior to this date Hughes Public Relations contacted the top 50 food bloggers in Australia to identify those who were open to receiving further communication and samples from Beerenberg. Those who expressed interest in Beerenberg were then sent some further information and some samples to introduce them to the Beerenberg brand.
Two days before the launch date, a news release (see Appendix A) and a sample of Beerenberg Strawberry Jam, were sent to those identified on the target media lists, including food bloggers, along with instructions on how to use the Provenance Pathway tool. The sample of Strawberry Jam ensured each journalist had a Beerenberg jar on hand to try out the Provenance Pathway tool for themselves. By using the Provenance Pathway, journalists could see how easy it was to use and also the range of information available within the tool - including a map of where the main ingredients were grown, the name and photo of the cook and the date it was cooked.
The newly developed website and the Provenance Pathway served as a sales tool and a point of difference for Beerenberg during the review process by the major supermarket chains with Hughes Public Relations developing a presentation folder containing all the media coverage for use at sales presentations.
The communication strategy was tailored to highlight Beerenberg’s innovation in developing the Provenance Pathway whilst also using key messages to leverage their Australian family-owned brand values and their transparency in enabling customers to find out exactly what goes into their Beerenberg jar.
The success of the communication program was monitored through traffic to the Beerenberg website (see Appendix A), product sales and the success of Beerenberg’s move to gain shelf space for its products in Coles and Woolworths stores nationally.
The proactive media publicity program resulted in widespread print and online/webbased coverage. The majority of articles published were in national, international or Eastern states publications/websites. Print publications to publish articles included The Weekend Australian, The Sunday Age, The Sun Herald and The Sydney Morning Herald (see Appendix A). The audience reached with 15 print articles alone was over 1.8 million with an additional 22 online/blogs covering the launch.
Importantly, the Provenance Pathway tool was included on the Springwise website – which cites itself as ‘one of the world’s leading sources of new business ideas’ (see Appendix A).
Visits to Beerenberg’s website doubled in the week following the launch of the new website and Provenance Pathway tool and have remained higher than prior to the launch. The use of blogs to spread the news also resulted in substantial feedback from consumers to Beerenberg with all responses being extremely positive towards the new Provenance Pathway tool.
Shortly after the launch Beerenberg gained shelf space for five of its jams in Woolworths stores nationally along with its Tomato Chutney and Caramelised Onion in 560 stores nationally – effectively doubling its sales base outside South Australia. In July, Coles also agreed to take three Beerenberg dressings into 540 stores nationally.
Objective: Increase visits to the Beerenberg website leading to marketing of the Beerenberg brand to a wider audience.
Result: Visits to Beerenberg’s website doubled in the week of the launch and have continued to be significantly higher than before the launch - 100%
Objective: Assist in securing shelf space in Woolworths and Coles supermarkets nationally.
Result: Shortly after the launch Beerenberg gained shelf space for five of its jams in Woolworths stores nationally along with its Tomato Chutney and Caramelised Onion in 560 stores nationally – effectively doubling its sales base outside South Australia. In July, Coles also agreed to take three Beerenberg dressings into 540 stores nationally – 100%
Objective: Increase Beerenberg’s reputation as an Australian-made family-owned company.
Result: Feedback from consumers on blogs and websites has only been positive in terms of praising Beerenberg for taking the step towards transparency which, as a result, has further improved Beerenberg’s reputation as a premium local producer – 100%
Objective: Enhance the reputation of Beerenberg as a premium food manufacturer.
Result: Media coverage has generated more than 15 positive stories in print publications, about the launch of the new website and the Provenance Pathway, with circulation totalling nearly 1.8 million for print media alone across Australia, to date, all of which have enhanced the reputation of Beerenberg as a premium food manufacturer – 100%
Objective: Position Beerenberg as Australia’s leading producer of premium Australian-made jams and condiments through the promotion of the company’s heritage, values and quality products.
Result: Hughes PR included details about Beerenberg’s heritage, values and quality products in its news release about the Provenance Pathway and this was referred to in the majority of stories, both print and online. The success of Beerenberg’s retail products in Australia has opened up additional possibilities for export, with discussions currently underway with US distributors – 80%
Objective: Increase brand recognitionon Australia’s eastern seaboard where Beerenberg has been less well-known.
Result: Through publicity associated with the launch of Beerenberg’s new website and its Provenance Pathway tool, significant national media coverage was gained, lifting the company’s profile nationally particularly in the Eastern states – 90% After assessing all the objectives the campaign can be considered to be highly successful with most objectives being met completely and two scoring very highly.