Millennials bite on Bristol Bay's marketing campaign

After achieving solid results in the millennial-heavy test market of Boulder, Colorado, U.S.A., the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA) of Bristol Bay, Alaska, is expanding its brand recognition and sales pilot program for its wild sockeye salmon this year.

BBRSDA launched the campaign "in order to create a recognized and sought-after brand for Bristol Bay sockeye salmon” and increase the value of its fishery. It spent an initial USD 500,000 (EUR 469,184) on the pilot last year, the organization’s executive director, Rebecca Martello, told SeafoodSource.

“The Wild Taste Amazing Place” campaign, which ran from September through November, 2016, in Boulder, Colorado, was designed to increase sales of refreshed Bristol Bay sockeye salmon and targeted millennials because their spending habits and values raise their potential to become bigger consumers of wild-caught salmon, Martello said.

BBRSDA’s marketing effort “Tells the story of the food and they place where their food is harvested, and gives customers the perception and knowledge they are buying a quality product,” Martello said at a panel on marketing to millennials at the 2016 Pacific Marine Expo.

As part of the campaign, BBRSDA educated seafood staff about Bristol Bay salmon and worked with suppliers and distributors to ensure the sockeye was available. 

“Some of the takeaways for us were discovering just how complex the distribution chain is in seafood and the critical timing of promotions,” Martello said.

Educating seafood staff on the product was central to the promotion’s success, she said.

“We found that many consumers really rely on that salesperson to steer them in the right direction. We spent time with retail staff, providing training on all the wonderful, unique attributes of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. This engaged sales staff and really made them a champion of our brand,” Martello said.

BBRSDA also provided recipe cards and posters, seafood wrapping paper and labels, ice signs and Bristol Bay-branded aprons for sales staff. The organization also created digital ads that took Boulder shoppers to a unique landing page and provided “a strong presence on social media including a visually rich Instagram feed,” Martello said.

The organization also utilized its partnership with Chefs Collaborative “to leverage greater exposure for our retail promotions and ultimately create consumer dining experiences that would help drive sales at retail.” 

As a result, Bristol Bay sockeye salmon was featured on the menus of 17 local restaurants during Restaurant Week in Boulder.

After the multi-faceted marketing push, BBRSDA’s retail partners realized an eight to 14 percent increase in sales of Bristol Bay sockeye salmon throughout the three months.

This year, BBRSDA “is supporting the relationships developed in Boulder and creating even more partnerships with retailers, suppliers and processors to expand regionally,” Martello said.

The new branding campaign and marketing pieces have a “premium look and feel, but are also adaptable to various types of retailers,” Martello said. “The story of Bristol Bay is unique in that it is the largest wild salmon run on the planet, from a very remote, wild place (even by Alaskan standards) and each fisherman represents a small business,” Martello said. 

“Retailers that promote and support Bristol Bay are giving their consumers an experience worth sharing, while also supporting small, often family-run, fishing businesses. This is something we know consumers want and value, particularly those consumers who shop at specialty retailers,” she said.


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