Mom-focused seafood marketing campaign delivers healthy returns in US

Soon after a U.S. pediatric doctors’ group said that children need to eat more seafood, the Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP) delivered some hopeful news for the cause, confirming that its recent marketing campaign targeted at mothers was highly successful.

In partnership with seafood suppliers such as Starkist, Trident, Bumble Bee, and Verlasso, the coupon and digital campaign that ran for eight weeks during Lent generated a 300 percent return on investment, SNP said. The organization’s investment of USD 100,000 (EUR 90,000) produced approximately USD 300,000 (EUR 269,000) in sales growth, SNP President Linda Cornish told SeafoodSource.

Notably, sales of seafood in supermarkets in Indianapolis, Indiana, where the pilot campaign took place, rose 2.4 percent during the promotional period. Frozen finfish soared more than 11 percent, far outperforming national sales growth of less than 3 percent, according to SNP.

“We surveyed local moms and poured over a lot of data to really understand the audience. We found that Indy-area moms like seafood and they want to eat it more, but they didn’t think their families would eat it,” Cornish said.

The moms also said they are too busy to cook meals for both the adults and kids in their homes, so they settle for “kid-food.” 

“We showed them they could have the foods they want and that their kids would love it, too. By giving them tips on how to successfully get their kids to eat fish, we got their attention,” Cornish said.

SNP delivered messages on building “Little Seafoodies” [SNP’s longtime children’s seafood campaign] to moms’ cell phones, social media feeds, on their favorite blogs, and on morning lifestyle shows. 

The campaign used advanced digital technologies to target moms where they are: searching for recipes or “pinning” dishes on Pinterest, reading their favorite blog post, or seeing what their friends are up to on social media, according to Cornish. SNP also utilized geofencing around some grocery stores to have digital ads appear on mothers’ phones while they were shopping.

Sixty-eight percent of Indianapolis moms received seafood-positive messages such as a video featuring local dietitian and TV personality Annessa Chumbley. 

“The recipes she created were simple and got the kids involved in cooking," Cornish said.

Several supplier partners provided coupons, discounts, and/or promotions in grocery stores, recipes, and social posts. Participating donors included: Red Lobster, Australis Barramundi, Bumble Bee, Fortune Fish & Gourmet, Gorton’s, King & Prince, Mazzetta, Multiexport Foods, SeaBest, SeaPak, StarKist, The Fishin’ Company, Trident Seafoods, Verlasso, and Vital Choice.

Ahead of the pilot, SNP worked with seafood buyers at local Kroger and Meijer stores to prepare them with the campaign’s messaging. 

“As this was just a pilot, there was no in-store activation; but, as we expand, we expect to work with retailers on signage, recipe cards, sampling, in-store events, and other educational opportunities,” Cornish said.

In addition to sales growth, the campaign influenced some mothers’ perceptions of seafood for the long term. A significant 64 percent of moms intended to serve more seafood after exposure to the ads, and there was a 13.5 percent increase in positive sentiment of seafood.

The moms’ belief that “kids won’t eat seafood” declined 35.6 percent after the campaign. Their belief that children are not a fan of seafood or “will not try it under any circumstance” dropped by 23.3 percent.

And the percentage moms who said they “love most types of seafood and are always looking for new ways to prepare it” rose by 26 percent.

Campaigns like this are important in light of the American Academy of Pediatrics' recent report that U.S. children are not eating enough seafood.

“The recent AAP study draws attention to the concerning nutrient gap for children - kids are not getting the essential vitamins and nutrients found in seafood that they need for their proper brain development,” Cornish said. “The downward trend on seafood consumption among kids is not good news and we urgently need to build the next generation of seafood consumers now – for their health and the health of the planet,” Cornish said in a press release.

Suppliers, retailers, and restaurants can encourage kids to eat more seafood by offering kid-friendly options such as bite-size shapes that can be picked up by kids easily and dipped in sauces, according to Cornish.


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