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Follow-up Conference campaign wanted

Conference pears are better known, more popular and sell better in Germany. That's the result of the tasting sessions organized by VLAM and the Dutch GroentenFruitBureau in the North Rhine-Westphalia in the course of the three-year campaign 'Conference, always a good idea'. Promotions were also planned in Belgium. Both partners want to continue the campaign, and filed a new case for European co-financing.

Conference becomes more well-known
This promotional year, no less than 700 tastings were organized in the main retail chains of North Rhine-Westphalia. Professional promo ladies explained the various possibilities for Conference, and also let the consumer have a taste. The main message is that the pear can be eaten both when crunchy and juicy. This promotion runs until March 2015, but is already yielding good results. For instance, both spontaneous and assisted awareness of Conference in North Rhine-Westphalia is higher than in the rest of Germany. When asked what pear varieties they're familiar with, 11% of consumers in North Rhine-Westphalia spontaneously listed the Conference, and when assisted that was 30%; in the rest of Germany, these rates are 8% and 19% respectively. The preference for Conference pears is also higher in the promotional region compared to the rest of Germany (9% vs 6%). Compared to the baseline measurement at the start of the campaign, the preference for Conference pears also went up slightly. At the moment, the Conference pear is in third place regarding awareness and preference in Germany. It's preceded by Williams and Abate. To support these tasting sessions, an ad campaign is running in promotional leaflets of the main German retail chains. In these adverts, the customers are also able to discover the pros of the Conference pear.

Conference gets more popular
Generally, the Conference pear is rated highly by a consumer panel from North Rhine-Westphalia, consisting of 110 families with children up to 12 years old. 69% of them considers the quality good and 29% acceptable; just 2% finds the quality mediocre. The quality perception of Conference is also slightly higher in North Rhine-Westphalia. Particularly the flavour, quality, appearance, firmness and price aspects got a slightly better score. This could be a result of the tastings, because the best selling argument is a good personal experience!

Conference gets exported more
In the export statistics, Belgian Conference pears also do well. We exported 4,280 tonnes of pears in the period between August 2012 and July 2013. For the sales season from August 2013 until July 2014, this increased to no less than 8,408 tonnes. This doubling came to pass thanks to the good cooperation with the German retail chains. In addition, a larger number of German chains participated in the promotions.

Conference also on Belgian radio
The Belgian consumer was also able to get reacquainted with the Conference pear's strong points. In the first half of October, radio commercials were broadcast on MNM and Studio Brussel. The Russian boycott gave the Conference pear an unexpected push on the Belgian market this year, looking at the countless private initiatives for the Conference pear. VLAM also called for some extra chauvinism through a message repeated in all VLAM campaigns: "Consciously choose our own taste – now more than ever!".

Finding out pear preference on Facebook
Nearly 6,000 fans are following the Dutch or German language Facebook page for Conference pears. To generate more interaction, a new concept was introduced: the 'Preference pear'. Every post is a question asking for the fan's preference regarding flavour, preparation or season of the pear. Through adverts on Facebook, the campaign reached over 1 million people in Belgium! At the moment, it's also running in Germany, and the first results look promising.
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