In an uncertain year, dominated by restrictions surrounding the coronavirus, the Australian mango industry is hoping to make consumers see this tropical fruit as an essential item this summer.
Speaking as part of a recent webinar for Aussie Mangoes, Hort Innovation Marketing Specialist Tate Connolly says while many consumers may feel they need to cut back on their purchases at this time, the industry needs to work hard to ensure that mangoes are not seen as replaceable.
"Our strategy is to get the lighter buyers and get them more engaged and move them up the ladder," she said. "So, those who regularly treat themselves, to see mangoes as an everyday indulgence. So, we want to be increasing that frequency that people are purchasing mangoes. We are going to do that by positing ourselves as the go-to guilt-free treat. Also, as an industry, we are not quite certain of domestic volumes - it is something that we are all discussing regularly - but in any potential oversupply, we need to make mangoes more desirable, but not less valuable. With the intense competition for tropical fruit, we want mangoes to be seen as number one. In short, we want to be the fruit on everyone's lips. This season, our campaign idea is that Australian mangoes are this season's 'must-have'; so, ensuring we are the staple in people's baskets and most desirable product."
While this year's marketing strategy is an extension of the previous year, Ms Connolly admits it will have to be adapted to "plan for the unexpected". This will mainly be achieved by being easily responsive, running with the flow of the crop, and spreading out the peak media activities.
She added that there would be four major components this year, including lower-risk investments, such as the cancellation of "Mango Mess-tival", due to the long planning time, which will need COVID-19 restrictions, as well as flexible export plans, the first paid media campaign and focused audience targeting.
"Digital (media) is important for mangoes because it is affordable within our budget and levy amount," Ms Connolly said. "We can be really responsive, so we can respond to the flow of the crop and invest where there is more product coming through. Within reason, we can really plan this out to make sure the spend is happening with the flow of the crop. We can target specific audiences as well, and really reduce wastage on the spend and investment that we are making."
The Australian Mango Industry Association's (AMIA) Marketing Manager Treena Welch says while there are concerns surrounding the availability of flights for exports and the increased costs, the industry will invest in the markets where there are already good relationships.
"There are four investment criteria for where we are investing marketing dollars when it comes to the export strategy," Ms Welch said. "First is that we will invest in a mix of protocol and non-protocol markets. We will invest in a mix of established and emerging markets, and that any market where we do invest, we have a robust supply chain, where the quality that is required to deliver for the consumer experience can be assured. We will also invest in markets where we have the ability to partner with chosen retailers that target affluent consumers who are prepared to pay a premium for that mango experience."
Over the past six seasons, five key export markets have been developed: New Zealand, South Korea, United States, Singapore and Hong Kong and Ms Welch says a focus will be continuing to work with supply chain, exporters and growers who have program plans in those markets this year.
"Of course, the actual investments, in terms of what activities, will be determined by what is happening with COVID in those markets at the time," she said. "It will also be determined by how much fruit we are exporting, but at this stage, all signs are that we will have strong programmes into those markets."
Ms Welch also urged growers to ensure that they are achieving higher than the minimum maturity levels when picking the fruit and packing it to specification, as the eating quality will help boost repeat sales.
"In a year where our lives have been dominated by restrictions, lockdowns and uncertainty, people are just looking to escape this summer," Treena Welch said. "An Aussie mango offers that unique opportunity. We may not be able to fly away to our favourite tropical destination but we can certainly go there through our minds, every time we sink our teeth into a juicy sweet mango. Everyone is looking for an escape and we offer exactly that. This year, more than ever, we want to capitalise on Australians' love affair, and the love affair we are growing in other parts of the world, with our mangoes. We want to dominate their minds, their hearts, and their purchasing power to secure Australian mango's position as the 'king of fruits'."