It’s the dawn of a new era of marketing within the produce industry—one that’s been a long time coming. While giants in the consumer packaged goods industry have long intertwined their campaigns with technology and digital avenues, for some reason, the same strategy is slow to take hold in our industry. In fact, until very recently, the connection between produce marketing and technology has been suspiciously scarce. So, you can imagine the trepidation a company might have undertaking not just a digital campaign for the very first time, but one that is multi-faceted across several different tech arenas.
Bee Sweet Citrus, however, is undaunted. With the able hands of Director of Communications Monique Bienvenue and Sales Manager Joe Berberian at the helm, the company is meeting its 30 year anniversary head on with a new, full-scale, digital campaign. Through the use of online platforms, social media, interactive packaging, and beyond, Bee Sweet Citrus is heading into 2017 with a full offensive on how its citrus marketing has been done in the past.
“There are numerous ways for consumers to learn about a new product, but the way people learn new information today is through online platforms,” Monique tells me when I ask her why the company decided to take the campaign on at this stage in Bee Sweet’s history. “Research shows that social media is one of the most influential tools in today’s marketing industry, so we thought it would be a shame not to utilize its comprehensive components to educate consumers on what we’re all about—citrus!”
It all comes down to #EatMoreCitrus. This is not only the hashtag Bee Sweet uses in its popular social media campaigns across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, to name a few—#EatMoreCitrus aims to become a way of life. In a way that’s almost deceptively simple, Bee Sweet has found a way to go beyond just getting consumers to demand more citrus fruit at retail—which the campaign certainly does—but also ties each consumer the campaign touches back to a commitment to a healthier lifestyle. The goal is to infatuate the shopper with the Bee Sweet Citrus brand, while also promoting to a consumer who will continue to buy more citrus over their lifetime.
“The #EatMoreCitrus campaign focuses primarily on educating the consumer and the retailer as to why citrus should be a staple in a consumer’s diet, as well as how its versatility can cater to an eater’s culinary needs,” shares Monique as we talk about the strategy behind the campaign. “Bee Sweet’s marketing team is dedicated to promoting our product in a way that’s both beneficial for the consumer and the retailer. By helping to create a loyal customer base, we can help drive sales towards our retail partners.”
Bee Sweet’s marketing team is dedicated to promoting our product in a way that’s both beneficial for the consumer and the retailer.
But Bee Sweet is not on this formidable mission alone, thankfully. One of the cornerstones of the #EatMoreCitrus campaign comes by way of a little help from friends at Produce For Kids (PFK), which is exactly what it sounds like—a company dedicated to the mission of getting children eating healthier via marketing fresh produce. Here you may be starting to see the natural connection.
Since it joined forces with PFK in early August of 2016, Bee Sweet Citrus has been one of the fundamental member’s of the “Power Your Lunchbox Pledge.” Through the partnership, Bee Sweet has incorporated the Power Your Lunchbox logo on all its social media platforms and certain packaging. In return, PFK has helped take up that digital marketing charge by highlighting the company’s healthy meals and tips on its website, social media platforms, and through influential food bloggers. And yes, that #EatMoreCitrus hashtag is a major part of the success on both sides of this ever-growing coin.
“I was on Twitter one day when I came across some information that Produce for Kids had shared; the content I saw promoted the health benefits associated with fruits and vegetables, so naturally, I immediately began to research the organization and what they do for the community,” Monique recalls about her first experience with PFK.
“Being that the #EatMoreCitrus campaign had just begun, I was curious to see how the company promoted items and gave them a call the second I read about their Power Your Lunchbox Campaign. I wanted to see if there was a way for Bee Sweet Citrus to get involved in the project and, fortunately for me, there was!”
“Working with [Produce for Kids] is great because they’re just as passionate about health as Bee Sweet Citrus.”
In just the short time of the campaign, between August 8th and September 23rd of 2016, more than 21,600 families and classrooms took the pledge to pack a healthier lunchbox. This more than doubled the 2015 count of 10,000 pledges. The #PowerYourLunchbox hashtag alone garnered over 46 million impressions and the website, poweryourlunchbox.com, had 45,000 pageviews during the six week program.
“Working with PFK is great because they’re just as passionate about health as Bee Sweet Citrus,” Monique continues. “During the campaign, PFK provided us with registered dietitian approved recipes that were later shared on all of our social media outlets and even on Valley Delicious, a live television program that showcases recipes utilizing products from the Central Valley.”
That Valley Delicious mention brings me to another point: Did you know Monique moonlights as a television star? A Fowler, California business through and through, Bee Sweet and Monique have partnered up with Central California news station, KSEE 24, for its foodie-focused segment, Valley Delicious. Valley Delicious was created as a way to give California’s Central Valley consumers a more well-rounded understanding of where their produce is grown, providing both delicious recipes and an educational platform for viewers in line with California’s farm-to-fork movement.
“Valley Delicious is the one show that connects consumers with local farmers,” explains Monique as we talk about this key part of #EatMoreCitrus. “Informative, educational, and a reminder to support our local economy, this of course ties back to encouraging consumers to learn more about their food, and reminds them to keep grocery dollars close to home.”
What I think is so unique about #EatMoreCitrus, is that it not only educates the consumer, it inspires them as well. By promoting recipes that require specialty varieties and educating the consumer on the numerous health benefits associated with citrus, Bee Sweet is encouraging consumers to be more creative in the kitchen. And that brings me back to the question that all produce marketers have at the back of their mind: What advantage does this return to the retailer?
“The #EatMoreCitrus campaign provides consumers with comprehensive information regarding citrus varieties.”
- Joe Berberian
Once that creativity begins, chimes in Joe, consumers can then demand these varieties at retail, instantly making Bee Sweet invaluable to both retailer and consumer.
“Being that Bee Sweet Citrus is a one-stop-shop for ALL California citrus commodities, we really wanted to show consumers that there’s more to citrus than just your everyday orange; there’s Cara Caras, Blood Oranges, Pommelos, Meyer Lemons, etc.,” Joe tells me. “While our marketing team has plenty of information regarding these exotics and could communicate that in more traditional ways, we wanted to make sure that the consumer and retailer alike had easy access to this information. The #EatMoreCitrus campaign provides consumers with comprehensive information regarding citrus varieties, allowing for a more pleasant shopping experience and sparks inspiration in the kitchen, and giving consumers a reason to continuously shop at their preferred retailer.”
In order to help consumers differentiate between varieties such as Cara Caras and Navel Oranges, Bee Sweet also plans to introduce new language on its packaging that will help ease the confusion between varieties with similar appearances. These talking points will also help educate consumers on the health benefits associated with citrus, which is the foundation of the #EatMoreCitrus campaign.
“While the #EatMoreCitrus campaign is a digital campaign, it has spearheaded some of the projects we’ve been working on in terms of marketing to the retailer,” Joe notes. “Just as #EatMoreCitrus highlights the health components and versatility of citrus, so too do the POS sheets and any additional material we provide to our retail partners to help promote our product.”
At the end of the day, the expertise from Bee Sweet’s campaign lies in this: consumers are more willing to buy product that they are familiar with, and retailers can better sell product that does well with the consumer. By making sure each member of the buying chain is educated, the Bee Sweet brand is well on its way to becoming a go-to citrus brand for everyone.