Selling more bananas

Australian Bananas’ new three-year marketing campaign will soon be launched. Horticulture Innovation Australia General Manager, Marketing Services David Chenu is overseeing the strategy and talks about what’s been achieved so far and what to expect next.
Tell us about the work that’s happening to develop the new Australian Bananas marketing campaign.

We are currently in the final months of our latest three-year marketing plan for the Australian Bananas brand. We started planning for the next three-year plan last year and are now well progressed with consumer research which is helping us define the future direction of our new campaign. We have surveyed over 1500 people to identify the biggest opportunities to sell more bananas to more people more often.

Over the next few weeks we will be conducting focus groups to get an even richer understanding of how consumers feel about bananas and what would encourage them to eat more. From there we will be finalising our strategy and developing an exciting new creative campaign to spread our new message to the people of Australia.

The current campaign has reached out to the 18- to 39-year-old demographic as well as bananas’ other traditional demographics. What are some of the possible targets for the next campaign?

One of the main objectives of the current marketing plan for Australian Bananas was to close a significant gap we identified in the market six years ago. We noticed that people 18 to 39 years of age with no children were eating considerably fewer bananas than other market segments, including our traditional family demographic. This gap represented a massive opportunity to boost banana sales.

We created a campaign that would encourage the 18- to 39-year-old group to eat their fair share of bananas while still appealing to our traditional audience. The good news is this gap has been filled and now everyone is eating bananas at a similar level across all life-stages and demographic profiles.

The big challenge now is to get all Australians eating bananas more often. Increasing purchase frequency across the board (rather than targeting a particular group) is our main objective moving forward.

When is the new campaign scheduled to start, how long will it run for and what sort of annual budget is anticipated?

Our new marketing plan will set the direction of the brand for the next three years and the new campaign is due to start early in the new financial year – in July or August. We will support the campaign with a similar budget to previous years.

How do you think our campaign compares with others in horticulture?

The Australian Bananas campaign is one of the longest-running and most consistent campaigns in horticulture. In fact, it’s one of the most long-running and iconic campaigns in Australian advertising history.  Long-term consistency is the key to real marketing success – it certainly has been in this case.

The famous “Make your body sing” tagline is the glue that has held this campaign together for so many years.  As guardians of the brand, it’s our job to maintain the essence of this idea and keep re-inventing it to make it relevant to the current market. At its core, “Make your body sing” captures the pure, happy energy that only bananas can offer, and this message will remain at the heart of the new campaign.

David Weisz managed the current project up until he took another marketing role in January, can you give an overview of what the team might look like for the new campaign? Will HIA be working with the same creative team?

David Weisz did a great job managing the brand on a day-to-day basis over the last few years. He was a key member of the marketing team, but I have also been heavily involved in the bananas team for six years now. Since David Weisz left in January I have stepped into the main brand management role and will oversee the development of the new strategy and creative platform.

I am pleased to say our current creative agency, Elevencom, will remain in place to help us set the new brand direction. Jono McCauley and his team at Elevencom have worked with me on the brand for six years and bring an enormous level of experience and knowledge to the table.

We are also getting great input from our research partners, Added Value, and our media team at Ikon.

The current campaign has achieved some great successes. Can you give a run through of some of the achievements?

The biggest achievement of the current campaign is the fact that 18- to 39-year-olds with no children are now just as likely to eat bananas as any other demographic group (which is more than 90 per cent likelihood). Turning these under-consumers into banana lovers was not an easy task, but I’m very pleased that we’ve achieved it.

At the same time, the campaign was also successful in driving sales across the entire market with all households buying more bananas, more often over the past three years, according to Nielsen Research.

Having the campaign recognised by the Australian Parent’s Jury as Australia’s best campaign promoting healthy eating to children was also a very pleasing result.

Banana marketing will be a major topic at the Banana Industry Congress in June. Just to get people thinking about some of the issues to be discussed, can you give us an idea of an opportunity for bananas?

I think the biggest opportunity is for bananas to position the brand as the perfect solution for an “over-processed world’. Consumers are increasingly rejecting unhealthy, processed foods and are actively searching for healthy, natural, simple and convenient alternatives. It’s hard to imagine a food that is better placed to capitalise on this massive consumer trend.