Before we get into the case study, a little bit of background: Asian Home Gourmet was founded some 25 years ago, and from the start its vision was to bring the best authentic Asian foods out of Chinatown and into the mainstream supermarkets. The brand first came into Australia through a specialist Asian distributor some 15 years ago and over the years have built a significant presence across mainstream and Asian channels.
But in the past year it was felt that with Asian foods now worth 120m and growing at 15%, it is now time to bring it into the Cerebos Australia portfolio of brands alongside the likes of Gravox, Fountain and Saxa. So, as all good marketers do, we did some research on the brand and discovered 3 things:
Firstly, our brand awareness is low. In fact, we are at about 1/3 of the levels of the category leading brand and category no.2. So it didn’t take us long to decide that brand awareness is our top priority. And our research also gave us an interesting insight on the consumers with whom we should drive awareness:
Here’s an example: Julie, the archtypical MGB, cooks and shops for the household, are generally the type of consumer most brands in our space would target. And for good reason too. However, what we found is that in addition to consumers like her, there is also a substantial number of people like Justine: worldly, cosmopolitan, demands quality for her food and is quite tuned in. And for those of you who watched Masterchef, someone who needs a bit of help with her stir fries ;-)
And finally, at the focus groups, a very clear theme emerged on Asian food: it evokes memories of the beautiful sights, sounds and aroma of Asia. It is, quite literally, a sensory journey to Asia.
So how do go about driving awareness? We sat down with our agencies, look at all the research and our range of products, and the name that came to mind……
…… was lonely planet, the brand synonymous with the authentic Asian experience and favoured by the worldly travelers. We all felt that the best way to get our brand out there and establish our credentials is to work with an established player that shares some of our philosophies, and in that sense lonely planet is really a perfect fit. So we started working on a way that would work for both us and LP, and the result……
Is a co-branded microsite. The site forms part of the Lonely Planet website and is accessible by clicking on banners and, for part of the campaign, the front page “Latest from Lonely Planet” section where it was featured.
As you can see, the look and feel and content of this site is fully based on the Lonely Planet website design so for all intents and purposes, it is an extension of the LP site.
And on this site you will find content developed by Lonely Planet for 6 cuisines: China, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore, each taking up a dedicated page and linked to from the main page of the microsite. To be clear, our input only extends to the country selection. The content side of things is totally Lonely Planet’s domain, which is exactly the way we wanted it. Last thing we want to do is turn this into a major copywriting exercise.
So on each country page, you will find text content and images sourced by Lonely Planet. Our branding is limited to banner ads on the page, and a small packshot of one of the product in our range that corresponds to the cuisine type. And on top of that, in each country page you can also……..
…… download a free mini-travel guide of the country featured on the page, that includes a 2 page culinary guide with AHG branding. The guide is about 20 pages long, and is like the snapshot section at the beginning of LP guides. Apart from the advertising value, it’s also a little effort on our part to facilitate format and place shifting for the consumer.
So how did we do? Now to be fair, Lonely Planet is a component of the wider campaign and given that this is a brand building exercise, I really don’t think it’s fair for us to attach any numbers to it, so I’ll just focus on a few key numbers here: Our session time is around 5 minutes. Now let me put it in perspective: I believe that the session time on LP’s site is somewhere around the 14 minute mark. Given that we’ve clearly made the site part of LP and haven’t promoted it separately, this is a very substantial number. And together with the almost 8000 mini travel guides downloaded, our view is that we’ve achieved a very high level of engagement with the consumers through the quality and depth of content on offer.
Now you may recall that we have some banners on the microsite. As part of an effort to further increase engagement with our brand, we were offering free samples through the LP site. All the consumers need to do is click on the banner, where they’ll be taken to a form on www.asianhomegourmet.com.au and choose from a selection of 12 of our products. I can share with you that the click through rate from the microsite is more than 8%, which quite frankly is extraordinary for a banner ad, and we ran out of samples to give away 8 weeks before the Lonely Planet campaign was completed. That, by any standard, really isn’t too bad. And from a broader perspective, the entire campaign, in which LP is a part of, drove sales significantly over the campaign period and 12 weeks after the campaign our baseline sales are stably tracking at more than 20% ahead of pre campaign levels. There’s always room to do better, but to achieve that in our first go at this category is something that we are quite pleased with. However…..
…… we recognise that using content to build a presence online is an evolution. Albeit a very very very fast one. So in summary, I’d like to leave you with 4 thoughts that will drive our continued evolution in this space:
No.1. The name of the game is attraction. I love this graphic because it clearly illustrate that this stuff is all about matters of the heart. And if we think back to our dating days, unless you listen, show respect, and genuinely engage, you are not going to attract anyone. Nifty pick up lines and expensive presents don’t build relationships. Deep and meaningful conversations and hearts and minds do. And as the lone dude in a marketing team full of women, I’m constantly reminded of this.
No.2. Once you attract the consumers, understand what they value about you and find innovative ways to give them what they want. NIN is the classic example here: the album is available to download for free, but the $300 ultra deluxe edition sold out in 24 hours. Why? Because attraction creates an emotional connection between him and his consumers, so that they really value all this extra stuff that NIN could sell at much higher prices.
No.3. Maintaining trust is paramount. By engaging with brands on the internet, consumers are not only pulling aside a curtain to look at what we’ve got, they are also opening a metaphorical window to reach out and let us in. Lose it, the window will slam shut and there’s a good chance that the curtain will be pulled down whenever your brand shows up. Opt-in is a commitment. Abuse that and we’re gone. And most importantly, deliver on promises.
Finally, a point about free. Chris Andersen can tell you all about the power of free as a price point, and the point I’d like to make today is about free as in freedom. When content is used as advertising, it most certainly wants and needs to be free. Free to spread across the wild plains and rugged hills of the internet. Free to be mashed up, remixed, sampled, and become part of all kinds of wonderful and sometimes less wonderful new creations. We need to stop slapping all rights preserved on every piece of content, putting up paid walls and issuing take down notices to our biggest fans, and start taking the cue from creative commons and their likes who are passionate about freeing content from its shackles. I know it’s hard to give up control, and as expert practitioners in this space it’s always easy to see all the nuclear scenarios. But you know what? The best relationships are never about control. It’s about caring and sharing. While we are definitely not there yet, we are passionate about getting there, and hope to see you all there. Thank you.