UK Organic foods marketplace: Proactively working to increase sales and improve reputation
Everyone likes fresh, fruits, vegetables, and meats? Of course, who doesn’t? As in the United States, many foreign countries have began to promote the organic marketplace, branding the industry as fresh, safe, and more flavorful. Over the past several years, the United Kingdom, through support from government, nonprofits and the private industry has began to proactively promote this immerging market through many branded public relations and educational campaigns—and social media and user-generated content have been on the forefront of all the efforts. In the UK, the industry has also turned to online shopping for organics to turn the industry from “niche” to norm.
The European Union and the Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission set out to rebrand the organic industry by creating a new logo to be placed on all organic foods. To create the new logo, they targeted the general public by seeking submissions for new ideas via a campaign with a 6,000 euro reward. Towards the end of the competition, they had over 3,400 submissions and worked to narrow the pool by allowing people to vote on their favorite logo. At the end, they had three finalists and picked a winner. Aside from the cash reward, people had an incentive to participate because the winning logo would be used on organics within the EU.
“From July 2010 the EU organic logo is obligatory for all organic pre-packaged food products within the European Union. It is also possible to use the logo on a voluntary basis for non pre-packaged organic goods produced within the EU or any organic products imported from third countries.”
Also, in addition to the overall re-branding initiative within the European Union, the United Kingdom also set out to brand the organic industry within the country.
“There is lots of confusion around the word organic and what it means. Research shows that people value naturalness but don’t link this with organic. Our communication strategy will not only build consumer understanding but will also drive the organic sector as a whole.”
As part of the campaign, the UK Organic Trade Board created a branded website, Twitter account and Facebook page to engage followers and those interested in organics within the UK—an initiative that is part of the overall EU organic branding campaign. Another facet of the overall, integrated public relations campaign, Organic UK also sought public opinion and advocacy to promote the industry by allowing users to “sign” a petition and also donate money to the cause.
“The campaign’s vision is that, following the three year initiative, there will be a 15% increase in the volume of organic sales in the UK, per annum.
“The target audience for the campaign will be the main shopper – women – aged between 25 and 54 as this sector of the population has the greatest potential for buying more organic products. Six million women in Britain are in this category.”
Why this campaign works
This campaign—from both the European Union and United Kingdom vantages— is great for four reasons.
- It is fully integrated and utilizes hierarchy, partnerships, integration to the fullest extent. The United Kingdom’s campaign to build brand awareness and increase sales fits into the overall branding campaign implemented by the European Union.
- User-generated content promotes transparency and connects multiple audiences to successfully build trust amongst consumers. I really like how the European Union turned to the consumer base to look for new logo ideas, allowing them to be part of the overall process.
- The campaign was strategic-driven and was organized from day one. The European Union hired a public relations agency to research the topic and build an integrated campaign (the actual plan is even posted online), promoting the industry across borders. As part of the overall organic campaign, the European Union provides funding for countries to promote country-specific organic campaigns.
- In addition to the plan, the branding materials are posted online allowing all involved parties to use the same branded materials to maintain brand identity. All that required to use the logo on their products are also subject to apply to EU organic farming regulations, certifications, and inspections.
For these four reasons the campaign works, and I truly believe that other countries can learn a lot about successfully implementing integrated social media and user-generated content campaigns that span across borders.