DOVER, Fla. — Florida’s strawberry industry plans to promote its winter berries through expanding social media and retail promotions.
The Florida Strawberry Growers Association plans to spend a third of its marketing budget on connecting with shoppers through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, and has revamped its website, Flastrawberry.com, by making it more consumer-friendly, said Sue Harrell, director of marketing.
Though Harrell declined to state the organization’s marketing budget, this season is expected to represent the association’s largest increase in spending for marketing, she said.
“We get a bigger bang for our buck through social media,” Harrell said. “We don’t have to have a large budget with social media and can reach more consumers that way.”
The organization is working with the Sunday Supper Movement marketing company and through Hoffman Media’s Taste of the South magazine, plans to partner with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Fresh from Florida program in sponsoring two-page magazine advertisements November through February.
At 800 Florida and East Coast supermarkets, the association for the first time plans to sponsor in-store audio messages.
Scheduled to run in late January and in late February, the advertising is designed to encourage impulse purchases by detailing when Florida berries are in season and their nutritional benefits, Harrell said.
To encourage consumers to purchase more berries, the association plans to work with East Coast home cooks and food bloggers through social media and Twitter parties.
In late January, the organization plans to schedule a weekend exposing 20 blogger participants to strawberry production and showing them the use of the fruit.
Many follow the bloggers and the blogging communications program could potentially reach up to 5 million consumers, Harrell said.
“Our goal is to educate more consumers on our industry in Florida,” Harrell said. “These well-known bloggers have thousands of followers. That’s where the exposure is.
“Consumers have to drive the sales. We want retailers to get the credit for buying Florida berries. They are supporting our growers. We want our programs to be consumer-driven where consumers push retailers to sell Florida strawberries during our season instead of from other areas. Instead of spending money at retail level putting up signs, we are spending money at the consumer end to create demand.”
In foodservice promotions, the association plans to again work with several Tampa restaurants, including the legendary Bern’s Steak House.
The January and February promotions include the Epicurean restaurant featuring a strawberry-based dinner and, like last year, the Ulele restaurant in February plans to host a growers’ appreciation social which features strawberry-flavored beer and homemade strawberry ice cream.
Through Hoffman Media, the association is publishing a recipe book in a partnership with the Florida Strawberry Festival.
Scheduled to be published March 1, the hardcover book is set to replace a softcover publication and feature full-color recipes of all types of uses of the fruit including salads, savory dishes, desserts, dips and novelty items, Harrell said.