TURN KIDS INTO LIFE-LONG ONION LOVERS
Kids usually aren’t the first demographic that comes to mind when promoting onions. Yet, children and their families were the prime targets of the ‘Secret Serve’ marketing campaign launched in May 2016 by Australia’s onion industry.
The campaign, created by Horticulture Innovation Australia, the country’s grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation tasked with creating value for Australia’s plant-based agricultural products, was multifaceted. Key elements included retail cooking demos, endorsement by celebrity chefs, engagement by media influencers, and both a web and social media presence.
One year into the campaign, Nielson statistics showed families had increased their average annual onion purchase by buying these veggies more often. U.S. retailers and grower/shippers alike can use similar tactics to boost onion sales and win over young consumers on this side of the world too.
“When people or kids for that matter say they hate onions, they usually struggle with the texture or crunchiness of them,” says Rene Hardwick, director of public and industry relations for the Greeley, CO-headquartered National Onion Association (NOA). “That’s why caramelizing may be the best way to introduce [onions to] kids. Caramelizing brings out the natural sugars of an onion and softens it up quite a bit. Educating consumers about the options with onions — ways of cooking and using them — and letting people taste them would go a long way toward getting young families eating onions.”
The NOA has created a new superhero called Nature’s Ninja. This cute character is designed to capture the imagination and educate Millennials who are looking for ways to cook healthy foods for their families but may not realize the health and taste advantages of adding onions to their diets. Consumers may soon see Nature’s Ninja on onion bag labels.
New this year, too, is Bland Farms LLC’s partnership with The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run. The promotion featured co-branded packaging, eye-catching point-of-sale merchandising displays, and contests and games. The latter includes a retail display contest with $10,000 in prizes, consumer sweepstakes with a grand trip prize to Hollywood for a family of four, and a social media scavenger hunt where consumers find the Gary the Snail PLU sticker and enter to win weekly prizes on social media.
“One of the intentions of our promotion with the SpongeBob Movie was to appeal to kids and families,” says Troy Bland, COO. “The kids see SpongeBob on the packaging, beg their parents to buy the onions, and then see the recipes on the back of the bags and want to try those. Children are more willing to try a healthy food (fruit or vegetable) with a favorite brand character compared with an unknown character. Plus, promotions like this really drive sales because retailers get excited and build displays, which leads to increased exposure of Vidalia onions.”