Nic Jooste is a marketing magician. He doesn’t have the resources at his disposal to buy massive television campaigns, yet he has managed to create marketing campaigns that have won Cool Fresh, the company he represents, a cult following in certain quarters.He doesn’t do this just by gut, he does research to inform his campaigns. Particularly focused on the young adults in society, his research points to a need to market produce in a way different than it has been marketed before. We asked Mira Slott to find out what he has in store for attendees at The London Produce Show and Conference:
Partner and Director of Marketing,
Cool Fresh International
Ridderkerk, The Netherlands
Q: You’ve wowed attendees with your dynamic, thought-provoking talks, memorably to help launch our seminal Amsterdam Produce Show last November and to enhance our long-running, iconic New York Produce Show and the concurrent Global Trade Symposium:
Now in London, you’ll be participating in a targeted all-day seminar program on the majestic main stage balcony overlooking the trade show activity. Sponsored by the Dutch Embassy on behalf of the Dutch fresh fruit and vegetable sector, speakers will examine strategies primarily aimed at getting children to eat more produce.
Yet, you’ve channeled an aggressive focus on capturing Generation Z, the cohort following the Millennials, raised in the Internet and social media age. Will you continue your out-of-the-box angling? And if so, why Gen Z?
A: I believe that the bulk of the London attendees would not have heard my Gen Z presentation, so I will familiarize them with the content coupled by some new ideas. The reason is that this consumer group will comprise 40% of the consumer population by 2020. I believe it is of paramount importance that fresh produce companies create strategies to embrace this group, and by focusing my presentation on Gen Z I can add the most value to the LPS.
Q: How fortunate for LPS attendees to be treated to an encore performance! You’ve undertaken fascinating research to glean insights into the discernments of this fast-growing, elusive, and increasingly influential population. And you’ve turned these revelations into clever marketing campaigns to catch their attention and steer them to fresh fruits and vegetables. Could you elaborate on why the produce industry should take notice and follow suit?
A: For the simple reason that Generation Z is everything the fresh produce industry is not — creative, innovative, in-your-face, non-conventional, digitally driven, attitude- and adventure-oriented, etc. I believe our industry can learn a huge amount from Gen Z, and that by immersing ourselves in their behavior, we can design new marketing solutions to increase the declining consumption of fresh produce.
Q: What can we learn exactly? Are there particular traits or stimuli enveloping Gen Z?
With so many screens vying for the attention of Generation Z, it’s vital to know where to focus marketing efforts to get through to these individuals. A good place to start is to consider a few things that are important to Generation Z.
First, Visuals: Generation Z typically eschews traditional social networks like Facebook in favor of visual-based platforms such as Snapchat, YouTube, or Instagram. Their television consumption is far less than millennials, indicating that the visual aspect is more about self-expression and community.
Second, Charities: A Maclean’s article says that 60% of Generation Z wants jobs that have a social impact and 26% already volunteer. This generation cares more about brand transparency, and wants to support companies that are actively doing good.
Third, Innovation: Generation Z places a strong emphasis on being innovators – the widespread reach of social media and the increasing popularity and success of crowdsourcing have allowed the inventors in this generation to truly flourish.
International Business Times wraps it up simply: “They’re humble, phone-obsessed and they like video games. They’re worried about the environment, choose visuals over text and prefer incognito social media platforms.”
For brands to engage Generation Z, it’s best to consider an approach that appeals to their desire to change the world. As Generation Z turns further away from traditional ads and marketing, they’ll begin to look more towards brands and companies they can believe in and want to be a part of. This means that a focus on authenticity and transparency will be moved to the front of marketing campaigns, creating a new form of storytelling that can appeal to the activist hearts of Generation Z.
Q: How do you translate all these insights into effective marketing strategies and stay ahead of these lively technology platform twists and turns?
A: The media usage and consumption of Generation Z tells us a lot about where marketing is headed in the not-too-distant future. This group is both more conservative and more driven to make a difference than past generations, and their $44 billion buying power will say a lot about what’s important to them. Marketers ought to be looking at cross-channel approaches that emphasize the authenticity of their product – particularly when it can encourage Generation Z to get involved and make a difference.
Q: Is there a generally accepted definition of the age range encompassing the Generation Z segment?
A: Most demographers and researchers typically use starting birth years that range from the mid-1990s to early 2000s, and as of yet there is little consensus about ending birth years.
Q: Eating behaviors can be challenging to change once they are engrained. It is one argument for trying to catch impressionable, young kids when their taste buds and eating habits are still being formulated… What are your thoughts here?
A: I agree wholeheartedly! Parents play the biggest role in establishing the eating preferences of their children. However, the biggest challenge occurs when children become ‘digital natives’, and are lured away from healthy food by the processed food industry. Budgets in the energy drink and candy segments, for example, are comparable with the annual turnover of a large fresh produce company. I am a firm believer that the fresh produce industry needs to change its marketing tactics and style completely if we are to have any hope of securing young consumers as loyal buyers.
Q: Can you tell us more about your own Gen Z research? Did you have a hypothesis going into it, and did the results mirror that hypothesis? Is this ongoing research? Have you learned more insights following your initial findings?
A: Our hypothesis was that we already had all the answers; we just did not know the questions which Generation Z wanted to have answered! The results indeed showed that Cool Fresh is perfectly positioned to play a leading role in developing Gen Z-style marketing. The research is ongoing, but now more from the perspective of testing our ideas with the target group.
Q: So, what were the biggest discoveries? Did you come up with the questions Gen Z wanted answered?
A: We found a number of crucial aspects, which we are now using in our marketing:
· 87% of the participants in our focus groups stated that companies (such as Cool Fresh) have a big role to play in making the world a better place.
· 67% said that companies should focus on the well-being and “upliftment” of people.
· 25% said that the environment should be cared for by companies. Also, the story or ethics behind a brand is very important.
In terms of advertising, Gen Z gave us five crucial instructions:
1) ‘Don’t be scared, we want to consume your advertising.’
2) ‘Be relevant to our lifestyle.’
3) ‘Don’t treat us like fools – we understand that you are trying to sell us something.’
4) ‘Don’t bore us – we prefer advertising which makes us laugh.’
5) ‘Don’t think advertising – we want to be entertained!’
Q: You ascribe universal traits to Gen Z. Couldn’t there be significant differences or a range of nuances based on ages within Gen Z, and/or related to cultural variances within countries, etc.?
A: There is no conclusive academic research on this. Our gutfeel and limited research numbers give us the feeling that Gen Z consumers have universal traits. They have an attitude and they crave adventure. ‘We want it all and we want it now’, whether they live in Montenegro or Miami, Alabama or Australia.
Q: How are you capitalizing on your Gen Z research? Could you talk about the marketing strategies that work and ways you are employing these strategies.
A: We are primarily using it to restyle our own advertising and concepts. What we are seeing is that also the ‘grey suits’ (people with conservative attitudes) are tickled by our audacity in discarding convention and opting for an ‘in your face’ advertising approach. An example can be found in the advertisement which we placed in the LPS program guide/catalogue.
Q: That’s quite a departure from traditional produce marketing… What are some of the misconceptions about reaching Gen Z’s? Do you have examples of campaigns that have gone awry?
A: The biggest misconception is that a company can ‘learn the language’ of Generation Z. What we did is to use Generation Z to design the first campaigns, instead of us trying to do it.
The Dutch railways learned the hard way. When they first targeted Gen Z via social media, they had ‘old’ marketers running the conversations. Their people tried their best to ‘be cool’, and Generation Z literally gave the railways a bashing. They then changed over to younger campaign teams, and today Dutch railways are having really cool conversations with their younger consumers.
Q: Produce industry executives often argue that making meaningful changes in produce consumption involves multi-faceted, long-term strategies. For instance, a cartoon character on a package of fruit might capture a child’s attention at the point of sale, but could be short-lived, especially since that package of fruit is competing with a plethora of eye-appealing junk food. Could you discuss this issue?
A: This is exactly where the fresh produce industry needs to change. No more drawn-out, multi-faceted, long-term strategies. Generation Z and Generation Alpha require short, fast, quirky, adventurous campaigns.
Q: So, Generation Alpha is the catch phrase for those younger than Generation Z…
A: I also believe that while a child may be drawn to a cartoon character on a package of fruit, in the end the parent decides whether to buy or not (and to keep on buying or not). In Cool Fresh’s perspective, our strategy is now to lock Gen Z into our brands and stories, so that when they become parents the decision to buy fresh produce comes from the parents, and not the children.
Q: Is a truly successful approach to increase produce consumption in children dependent on integrating the messaging across multiple paths; in school curriculums, after school programs, through parents at home, in supermarkets, food service operators, on TV, social media, etc.? And how does this apply to reaching Gen Z?
A: Short answer — for a commercial company like Cool Fresh the only way is to target Generation Z and Generation Alpha through social media. The rest are all budget-slurping and non-effective vehicles.
Q: With that in mind, what advice do you have for suppliers, for produce organizations, for retailers, for food service operators, etc.?
A: The greatest challenge for each of these players is to get out of their individual and collective boxes. Stop focusing on ‘health and nutrition’ and start focusing on ‘attitude and adventure’.
Q: What are the most important takeaways for London attendees when they head back to their offices?
A: I would suggest that each company should go back home, and find and employ a 16 year-old marketing consultant! Better still establish an advisory panel consisting of a couple of youngsters between 12 and 18 years of age to drive the advertising strategies.
Nic Jooste’s talks are always filled with innovative marketing insight. Though we are as focused on marketing as anyone in produce, we wonder if the produce industry isn’t avoiding facing some tough problems in hoping that better marketing will solve its consumption problems. We are drawn to this quote from Nic’s Interview:
“Parents play the biggest role in establishing the eating preferences of their children. However, the biggest challenge occurs when children become ‘digital natives’, and are lured away from healthy food by the processed food industry. Budgets in the energy drink and candy segments, for example, are comparable with the annual turnover of a large fresh produce company. I am a firm believer that the fresh produce industry needs to change its marketing tactics and style completely if we are to have any hope of securing young consumers as loyal buyers.”
Whatever Red Bull or for that matter Coca-Cola or Nestle may spend on marketing, this much is certain, they market a product of consistent quality. The Junior pundit Primo, aka William, was only three years old when we wrote a piece titled Little Taste Bud that detailed his love for blueberries and how frequently he spit them out due to their bitterness. In Pundit headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida we receive twice weekly fruit deliveries, for the last two months these have included peaches and nectarines which were basically inedible. As we travel around the world we often see beautiful breakfast buffets at the world’s finest hotels, yet they feature melon that is often flavorless.
Marketing is a powerful tool, but it is a double edged sword. If the Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton or Peninsula or Mandarin Oriental hotels sell luxury and glamour and relaxation — the marketing can be very successful at attracting people to the hotels and resorts. And if the lodgings deliver on the promise made by the marketing, the marketing has a multiplying effect, as people tell friends and loved ones and the hotels fill across the globe. But if the product breaks the promise, the rooms are dirty and the service curt, the locale not as represented in the ads, well then the effect of not delivering on the branding promise is multiplied as well.
One reason the various schemes that trade associations and government bodies have put together to promote produce consumption have failed is that not a one of these programs was willing to offend any producers and demand quality and taste standards for participation.
So we can’t wait to hear Nic Jooste’s presentation, we want to know both how to turn on Generation Z with brand promises that matter — and how to retain their allegiance by consistently deliverg on those promises.
Come join us at The London Produce show and conference to work this all oyut. You can register here.
Let us know if you need a hotel room here
And general information about the event si available here.
See you at The London produce show and Conference 2017