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Vol.4 ISSUE 2 MARCH/APRIL 2010
With a constant influx of new products and varieties, consumers are faced with ever-increasing options in the produce department. For the average consumer, a trip down the produce aisle to pick up a few staples can become daunting. A lot of challenges in the produce department can be addressed with increased consumer education, and creating differentiation between products or varieties is a prime example.
One company that has made a concerted effort in this area is Dole. They have diverse offerings in their packaged salad business, a category that has struggled lately after years as an innovative leader in the department. For the 52 weeks ending Dec. 26, 2009, packaged salad category volume and dollars were down several percentage points versus a year ago.
In an effort to engage and educate their packaged salad consumers, Dole launched their new Salad Guide at PMA in October of last year. While the whole initiative includes broadcast and print ads, POS materials, and other marketing efforts, the main component is the introduction of a taste and texture rating guide. The taste and texture of their products are marked on the packaging using a 1-5 scale: taste is rated from mild (1) to bold (5), while texture varies from tender (1) to crunchy (5).
While Dole has completely overhauled their approach to salads, there are also less-comprehensive examples within the potato category.
Dutch potato grower HZPC was awarded second place in the prestigious Innovation Awards at this years’ Fruit Logistica in Berlin for their Pommonde potato taste concept. Using a simple color-coded guide on their packaging (see below), they convey to customers how a potato tastes.
HZPC has taken great care to produce such a consistent flavor profile for their potatoes that they can create a marketing program around it. Ultimately, including such information on the packaging is meant to make for a simpler and more pleasant shopping experience for the consumer.
While updating packaging is a large undertaking, USPB offers support signage that communicates messaging similar to Pommonde’s taste concept. We encourage you to visit the USPB Resource Center where you will find varietal-specific signage that explains the flavor profile of different potato types along with recommended uses. You can find the signage here.
The USPB’s Potato Tastemaker 2K10 Challenge culminated Friday, February 5, 2010, with a final showdown. A live, top chef style cook-off was held at Blissdom, a national blogging conference in Nashville, TN.
This final event included a star-studded blogger panel, an audience waiting to root on their favorites, a mashed potato bar and an energy-packed two hours of potato love. Participants were primed to win the Potato Tastemaker 2K10 crown by proving their potato savvy,
In case you missed the competition, here are the CliffsNotes®:
In October 2009, the USPB partnered with nine high-profile bloggers across the country to take part in the “Potato Tastemaker 2K10” challenge. The overall aim of this program was to let opinion leaders in the digital space generate new and innovative ways for our target audience (the readers of these blogs) to think about and use potatoes.
Each month, these competitors received a mystery delivery with contents to be used for that month’s challenge. They created their potato dish on video and posted it to the USPB Potato Goodness YouTube channel where fans voted for their favorite. The themes were: Potatoes and Seafood; Nutrition on a Budget; and Nutrition in a Time Crunch.
(For a closer look, visit momsdinnerhelper.potatogoodness.com—get to know our challengers and take a look at some of the amazing potato creations!)
In total, there were 200 guests. Live from the event, these guests were “tweeting”, taking photos and streaming video, and even after the event, they were posting on their blogs. The success from the program can be seen across social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, blogs, Twitter, Flickr and Whrrl.
The Tastemakers created 27 potato recipe videos in the course of three months, which were viewed nearly 9,000 times. Their blog posts, and those published by fellow online influencers about the Tastemaker program, earned more than 700,000 page views. And the reach via “tweets” specifically referencing Tastemaker was deep—more than 5.4 million impressions were secured from tweets alone, to be exact.
Although not as quantifiable, one blogger even said the USPB team “really broke new ground with using user-generated video content” and that “all of the food brand reps she knows have been watching Tastemaker closely for months.”
The USPB is thrilled with the kind of momentum this program built. The success of this new form of social interaction provides insights into future blending of traditional and digital marketing aimed at increasing consumer awareness of potato nutrition and innovative uses.
The USPB foodservice team has created “Modern Potatoes,” an 8-page insert featuring 17 innovative menu ideas, the “Potatoes…Goodness Unearthed®” ad and potato nutritional information. The content is touted, “Breakthrough menu ideas with America’s favorite vegetable: Healthy. Global. Profitable.” This supplement was featured in March issues of Restaurants & Institutions and Chain Leader. The total circulation: 146,000 foodservice operators/chefs.
The USPB announces Don Ladhoff will lead the retail efforts of the Domestic Marketing Program. He will provide key input to strategy and guide the tactical execution of the program, with the goal of increasing demand for potatoes in the retail environment.
“I’m pleased Don has joined our team,” said Kathleen Triou, USPB’s Vice President, Domestic Marketing. “He brings considerable experience and enthusiasm to the position, and he’ll be ready to contribute from day one.”
Ladhoff was most recently the President of BrandForce, a full-service marketing agency he founded in 2008 that assisted clients including Butterball, Chiquita and T-Mobile. Prior to BrandForce, he was the Vice President of Client Solutions at Seismicom from 2006-2008, working with brands such as Nestle, Fresh Express and Challenge Dairy. From 2002 to 2006, Ladhoff was a Vice President of Account Services with MARS Advertising, developing shopper marketing programs for clients including Clorox, ConAgra Foods, Dr Pepper/Snapple and Procter & Gamble.
Prior to moving into the agency world, Ladhoff earned his retail experience in a succession of roles from store management at Safeway to regional sales positions with Pepsi and The Wine Group to brand marketing roles at Constellation Brands. He worked closely with leading players in virtually every retail channel, including grocery, mass, club, consumer electronics, office supply, drug and convenience.
Ladhoff lives in Michigan with his wife, Mary, and three of their four children. He is a cycling enthusiast and gym member. He enjoys surveying new and innovative retail operations whenever possible.
©2010 United States Potato Board