Prior to the campaign Charlotte was lagging behind much of the rest of the country, but by the end was the best performing region in the country. The four-week campaign doubled its sales target and returned the market to growth.
“This is an exciting time in the omega-3 business,” said Adam Ismail, Executive Director of GOED and part of the coalition Steering Committee. “The Charlotte campaign showed that we can reverse the market decline by coming together as an industry, and going forward, we welcome the participation of everyone, from suppliers to brands to brick and mortar retailers, with a stake in the EPA and DHA business.“
From decline to growth
The omega-3 sector has experienced something of a decline in recent years, with some observers suggesting this is due to negative headlines linked to a couple of negative studies. However, speaking with us at SupplySide West, Ismail said: “It wasn’t the increase in negative headlines, it wasn’t one particular study that was driving this decline, it was a lack of positive messaging reaching the consumer.”
To give consumers that positive prompt, the omega-3 industry coalition devised a campaign that included included television, print and digital advertising, an education consumer website (AlwaysOmega3s.com), targeted public relations, billboard ads and retail store activation. The test campaign ran in Charlotte from mid-September to mid-October.
In just four weeks, the integrated marketing campaign increased sales 5.8%, significantly above the 3% campaign goal, and also showed a positive increase for the first time in many months.
Ellen Schutt, Communications Director for GOED, told Nutraingredients-USA that the team learned a lot from the test market in Charlotte. “According to the consumer survey we did there, the main driver that motivated consumers to take action (do more research, begin to consume a product, talk to their doctor) was retail activation, or the in-store messaging, so we are planning to really focus more efforts on that component nationally,” she said.
“On the other hand, billboards did not do very well for audience recall, so that won’t be included in the national plan.”
A rising tide lifts all boats
Two separate consumer surveys before and after the campaign in Charlotte indicated that between 28,000-61,000 new users came into the omega-3 category specifically because of the campaign. Additional analysis of pricing structure in Charlotte and other geographic markets during the month indicated that the increase in sales was not driven by discounts or sales promotions.
The campaign was found to benefit all types of EPA and DHA oils, including 18:12 (30%) fish oil, concentrates and krill oil, with sales growing an average of 2.2-2.6% per week throughout the campaign. By contrast, these same oils declined throughout the rest of the country.
The next stage is to expand the campaign nationally, and Schutt confirmed that the organization is still finalizing the plan for the national roll-out. “We are waiting for some final data from one of the marketing agencies, to determine length of the campaign and the best media mix given the budget we have,” she said. “We should have an answer and final approval in early December.”
To watch Adam Ismail talk about the campaign with NutraIngredients-USA at SupplySide West, please click HERE.