Successful Conference pear campaign in Germany

VLAM, the Flemish Agricultural and Fisheries Marketing Board, and the Dutch “GroentenFruit Bureau” are extending their successful German Conference pear campaign. Their action is now being expanded to cover the rest of Germany, and use is continuing to be made of social media.

Successful campaigns
Three years ago, the “GroentenFruit Bureau” and VLAM decided to join forces to launch the Conference pear on the German market. Tasting sessions formed the core of the campaign. Over the past three years, as many as 1600 tasting sessions have taken place in supermarkets in North Rhine-Westphalia. “This is the most densely populated state in Germany, and the highest number of retail purchasing centres are located in this area, and so this means we were able to target our efforts most closely with a relatively small number of tasting sessions”, explains Kristophe Thijs, director of the VLAM office in Cologne. “Both shops comparable to our local supermarkets and the larger supermarkets have worked alongside us. These are shops with which we already enjoyed good cooperation for our Flandria products. We have usually been able to combine the activities with advertising campaigns in their promotional leaflets, so that has meant extra publicity.”

Reaching the target group
“Our target group was young families with children, and in that sense we have certainly succeeded. But the samples have also acted like a magnet for older people.” Shoppers have been given the chance to sample some delicious Conference pears and learn more about how versatile it is. This tactic has delivered good results: up to 45% of those sampling them actually went on to buy Conference pears!

Inspiration on social media
The campaign also had a high profile on social media, and the results were very pleasing: the German-language Facebook fan page reached an average of 80,000 Facebook users per report, with 900 likes and 40 shares. In 2015, there is once again a strong focus on social media, with some attractive retro images of the Conference pear capitalising on the news. “We reach a varied audience”, reports Kristophe Thijs. “People are open about Conference and beginning to talk about pears in general. And that was exactly what we wanted to achieve. In the context of a campaign like this, social media do indeed have a rather informative and supportive effect.”

A “home game” in Belgium and the Netherlands as well
The Conference pear also played a “home game” in Belgium and the Netherlands. Radio spots on MNM and Studio Brussel focused attention on the start of the Conference season. In the Netherlands, there were TV spots and the pear was also in attendance at the “Gastvrij Rotterdam” catering event and during the Libelle summer week. In addition, there was a joint drive on Facebook, with great reports about current events and a focus on the versatility of the Conference pear. This initiative also got a great response: every post on Facebook reached an average of 120,000 Dutch and Belgian consumers, getting 2000 likes and being shared as many as 130 times.

Plus points
The sampling sessions and the Facebook campaign delivered definite results. The outcome is encouraging: the Conference pear has developed into a fixture for German shoppers. “The taste of the Conference pear has really hit the spot. On top of that, we have really been driving home the big advantage of this pear, the fact that it can be eaten both hard and soft. I think we have succeeded in challenging the image of the so-called discount pear. Some chains, such as Edeka and Globus, have now added the pear to the regular ranges that they carry, whereas before they did not”, says Kristophe Thijs.

A sales boost
The quality evaluation shows that the Conference pear has become the third favourite type of pear in North Rhine-Westphalia. In the first year of the campaign, 36% of the German consumers surveyed were occasionally buying Conference pears. By the end of the third year of the campaign, as many as 46% of samplers were actually then buying Conference. In the Netherlands and Belgium, too, this classic pear is resurgent: in 2013, the average household bought 4.27 kg of Conference pears, and by 2014 this figure had risen to 5.66 kg. In the Netherlands, consumption rose from 2.57 kg per household to 3.19 kg. this favourable consumption behaviour is helping to solve the problems caused by the Russian boycott.

More sampling sessions
These positive results have encouraged VLAM and the Dutch “GroentenFruit Bureau” to stage a follow-up campaign. The collaboration has been extended by a year, and the campaign extended to the whole of Germany. Once again, the promotion bodies can rely on European subsidies. “The number of sampling sessions is mushrooming. With as many as 1300 sessions, the agenda for the 2015-2016 season is nice and full”, explains Kristophe Thijs. “The approach remains the same. We are on the right track, though, because I am now getting spontaneous requests from retailers to stage sampling sessions. That means that the pear is appealing, and shop chains are also noticing from their sales figures that the campaigns are proving successful. The big challenge now is to roll out the sampling sessions as widely as possible. We are also looking into the idea of tying them in with a competition.”

Source : VLAM

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