Session focuses on marketing health benefits

07/21/2011 11:18:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — Most consumers buy berries because they taste good.

But researchers have discovered that berries’ ability to fight the diseases of aging — like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and age-related mental decline — are so great that it makes sense to make the health benefits berries provide a major selling point.

That’s why the fourth biennial Berry Health Benefits Symposium June 27-29 hosted a session titled “Marketing to the Berry Health Message,” where representatives of six berry trade associations and a major berry grower-shipper shared their marketing strategies and discussed what they’re doing to promote the nutritional content of berries.

“The health benefits message is driving the U.S. to higher levels of consumption than ever before,” said Chris Christian, vice president of marketing for the Watsonville-based California Strawberry Commission.

The commission discovered in 2003 that not much research had been conducted into the health benefits of strawberries and has funded studies and touted their findings ever since.

The commission motivates consumers who are heavy users of strawberries — defined as those who use them from five to 20 times a year — to buy more of them through its interactive website, its Strawberry Nutrition News website, and various other programs, Christian said.

The commission also has gotten good results from posts from mom bloggers, who mention the nutrition value of strawberries, she said. The commission hosts local events for bloggers and has logged as many as 30,000 impressions from a single event.

In fact, all of the berry trade associations say they contact media, bloggers, dietitians and health professionals to help publicize the nutrition benefits of berries, and many make extensive use of social media, especially YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, to reach consumers.

Dole Food Co. Inc. is spreading the word about berries in a new edition of its kids cookbook this summer that features a number of healthful berry recipes, said Jennifer Grossman, senior vice president of the Dole Nutrition Institute.

Dole also disseminates information about berries and its other products through its Facebook page, which now has more than 350,000 followers.

The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Folsom, hopes to build buzz about blueberries with its new brand image Little Blue Dynamos, said Wendy Bazilian, an author and dietitian who represents the council.


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