Undergraduate students at The George Washington University (GWU) were challenged to come up with new ideas to increase consumption amongst the coveted Millennial Generation (18- to 34-year-olds). Divided into six teams, 40 business students were given a hypothetical budget of $50,000 to spend on what they felt would be the most engaging advertising and marketing campaigns aimed at 18- to 34-year-olds. They were also tasked to provide a plan extension that would increase the budget to $100,000. Students spent their semester conducting research and focus groups before presenting their findings to ten cranberry and marketing industry expert judges.
A predicted snowstorm on December 10th did not stop students or judges from attending the five-hour presentation where teams Advency, Edge Media, JamSail, Lincoln Agency, Madmen, and Mad Ox pitched their campaigns. Their combined research and interviews revealed interesting millennial trends:
• 60% of males and 61% of females enjoy cooking
• 75% have a social media profile
• Social media platforms are used to share eating experiences
• More are receptive to recommendations from their friends than from traditional media when it comes to decisions about food
• Millennials like to experiment with food to make it uniquely theirs
• Many are not aware of the many different uses of cranberries but are receptive to trying new things
• Of those who knew little about different cranberry applications, all had a positive response upon tasting cranberries
The teams introduced positioning statements targeted at unique segments of the Millennial Generation. Segments included the Food E-Vangelist, Young Professionals, Wannabes (persons who like the perception of being healthy more than actually choosing a healthy lifestyle), Health Guru, Multi-Tasking Modernists, Self Starters, Hip-ennials, Unique Yuppies, and Mover/ Shakers.
Marketing and advertising ideas ranged from social media to more traditional campaigns. Creative in-store advertising; strategic partnerships, a multi-state touring Cranberry Carnival; Cranberry Food Trucks; “Cranbassador” info sessions and cooking classes; a Cross Cran-try Bus Tour; Cranboxing; a Cran-bubbler; Give-away Contests; Banner Ads, College Posters, and in-store food sampling. Perhaps not surprisingly and in recognition of Millennials as “the Smart Phone” generation, all teams placed strong emphasis on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, FoodGawker, Instagram, and YouTube.
Team Advency, the winners of the competition, introduced judges to “Jane Berry”, a YOung PROfesssional (YOPRO) ranging from 22-29 years old and to whom Advency targeted their campaign ideas. Advency conducted three separate focus groups, a 219-person survey, secondary research and in-depth interviews with dietitians and cranberry growers. Results revealed that the focus should be on taste, diversity, and importantly educating consumers about the culinary versatility of cranberries. With the position statement: “The only berry that turns a health conscious consumer into a diverse chef,” the team focused on social media, a monthly Instagram competition, and a YouTube channel devoted to how-to cranberry recipes. Included in their campaign were non-social media events such as self-guided kiosks, floor talkers, and recipe samples.
The winners (Team Advency) received Amex gift cards and an invitation to visit a cranberry harvest in 2014. The event was sponsored by the U.S. Cranberry Marketing Committee (uscranberries.com)
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