Micro-blog campaign spotlighting sustainable tilapia drives 20-fold increase in online sales

Published on
November 22, 2019

A social media campaign encouraging shoppers to consume more sustainable seafood by eating more tilapia drove a large increase in sales on promoted products in related online stores, according to the NGO behind the campaign.

GoalBlue, a Shenzhen, China-based NGO seeking to make Chinese consumers’ choices more sustainable, ran a two-week campaign around celebrity chef Mi Zi Jun – who has an online following of 13 million – on the Weibo micro-blogging platform.

That campaign increased sales of the promoted product on e-commerce sites tied to Mi Zi Jun’s micro-blog by a massive 20-fold, according to GoalBlue’s Zi Wen, who was speaking recently at a forum in Hainan Province, a center of tilapia cultivation. Traffic to the tilapia items on the e-commerce sites increased 16-fold during the campaign, according to Zi – proof of the power of social media in making changes to consumption patterns in China.

GoalBlue is run by Zi Wen (also known as May Mei), the former longtime head of the international NGO Wild Aid, which was recognized for groundbreaking work in highlighting Chinese consumption of shark fins. Zi has been effective in enlisting leading Chinese celebrities and officials into her campaigns.

One of those campaigns, titled “iCAREFISH,” targets urban consumers through influential social media stars. In a video broadcast to her followers, chef Mi Zi Jun demonstrated various ways of cooking tilapia. Broadcasting out of the central Chinese city of Chongqing, the program highlights the popular Sichuan style of cuisine.

In a research report it compiled earlier this year, GoalBlue showed support for sustainability was highest among females aged 18-35, with college educations. Compiled with help from the Packard Foundation as well as other Chinese and international collaborators, the report showed a lack of knowledge among Chinese consumers over the sources of seafood in local markets – there was a vast underestimation of the percentage of stocks coming from aquaculture.

In addition to being a key tilapia producer, the region of Hainan is also an important tourism destination, often referred to as the Hawaii or Florida of China. Also attending the recent forum was Xing Tao, vice chairman of the Sanya Tourism Food Association, who pointed to the opportunities in branding Hainan tilapia for the tourist market.

Photo courtesy of xtock/Shutterstock

Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500