Pork Board Finds New Ways to Connect with Families

National Family Meals Month is a time for families to connect with each other, but how do food marketers connect with them?

DES MOINES, IOWA – Sept. 11, 2018 – National Family Meals Month is a time for families to set aside their busy lives and connect with each other at mealtime. The busy lives of an increasingly digital society make it harder for food marketers to connect with families – in ways that not only help them make nutritious and convenient food decisions, but with relevant messages and content that meet them where they are. The National Pork Board, in an effort to engage those consumers with an interest in family meal planning, has found a recipe for success.

“National Family Meals month was developed because the industry recognized fundamental changes in how families gather,” said Brittany Bailey, director of market insights at the National Pork Board. “Between the work schedules of the adults, school and activity schedules of the kids, it becomes difficult for families to find time to bond over a meal. That same hectic pace of family life that makes it difficult for me to plan a meal as a mom, also makes it hard for me to reach those meal planners as a marketer. For the Pork Board, we had to think differently about our strategies.”

For decades, Pork Checkoff funds were spent marketing to consumers through traditional print, broadcast and outdoor advertising. Changing demographics and changes in media consumption made it increasingly difficult to spend those dollars effectively.

In 2017, a “digital first” strategy was developed to focus on engaging customers online through the social and digital media platforms they use as they become less reliant on traditional media. To help formulate that strategy, the Pork Board turned to Google and its platforms.

“Google helped us understand how to be effective in our outreach efforts,” said Bailey. “The average person checks their smart phone 150 times a day, and Google data indicates that nearly one-third of all food and beverage sales are influenced in the digital space. Consumers are there, and are looking for information. We have to meet them where they are and be relevant.”

Google’s ability to connect brands with YouTube creators was a natural fit for the Pork Board as it connects with families and other groups of consumers.

This month, the Pork Board is launching a second YouTube influencer campaign, and reaching families have been a critical part of both efforts. With a focus on grilling and cooking chops to a proper end-point internal temperature of 145°F, both campaigns include “family influencers” – YouTube creators whose content specifically appeals to busy parents and families.

“In our first campaign that began in June, we identified three family creators who have a combined following of 2.9 million followers,” said Bailey. “By comparison, our proprietary YouTube channel has about 20,000 followers. Immediately, you recognize how this amplifies the message and brings it to people who wouldn’t normally see it.”

The other advantage of using YouTube creators is the built-in credibility these influencers have with their audiences. According to Google, 40 percent of YouTube subscribers say the creators they follow understand them better than their friends do, and 60 percent of millennial subscribers would make a buying decision based on a recommendation from their favorite creator.

Given the success of the first effort, four of the 12 creators publishing videos on their channels in the month of September are family influencers, with a combined audience of approximately 3.5 million subscribers.

Three more YouTube campaigns are planned in 2018, with the Pork Board leveraging relationships with major retailers to help build pork sales.

“We’re identifying influencers who shop at these retailers and warehouse clubs to drive more pork sales by year end,” said Bailey. “As an added benefit to those retailers, we are able to pass on the re-marketing information to define opportunities to re-engage viewers with additional marketing and promotional opportunities.”

The National Pork Board has responsibility for Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. Importers of pork products contribute a like amount, based on a formula. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, science and technology, swine health, pork safety and sustainability and environmental management. For information on Checkoff-funded programs, pork producers can call the Pork Checkoff Service Center at (800) 456-7675 or check the Internet at pork.org.