‘Engaging with the influencers could help boost potato consumption’

Cartoon potato character Bud the Spud is part of the More Than a Bit on the Side campaign
Cartoon potato character Bud the Spud is part of the More Than a Bit on the Side campaign

A recent article in the Press and Journal set a challenge to us here at AHDB Potatoes.

It was suggested that tatties would benefit from ambassadors to state their many health benefits.

The timing could not have been better as we are about to reveal an exciting new initiative that aims to get those who really influence our diet to promote the potato. I’m happy to give P&J readers a preview.

Let me start by saying I’m a big believer in marketing campaigns – they really can help change people’s attitudes and habits.

For example, our More than a Bit on the Side campaign has delivered consistently positive attitude changes in consumers since it started in 2015.

The three-year campaign, in conjunction with Bord Bia, is targeted at 25-44-year-old mainly female shoppers, with the aim of making them reappraise potatoes and portray them in a modern, convenient style while highlighting their nutrition profile.

Thanks to the campaign, we have seen an increase in consumer understanding of the health and nutrition benefits of potatoes, and a rise in the number of consumers likely to include more potato-based dishes when cooking at home. The industry has seen an upward shift in volume sales for the first time in over a decade, with consumers buying potatoes more often on a weekly shop and top-up shops.

However, here at AHDB we wanted to explore other approaches; more marketing isn’t always the answer and it can be expensive. So is there an alternative?

Let me ask you a question. How many times have you looked at a product’s star rating on Amazon, seen an average of three stars, read a few comments and decided, ‘think I’ll look at somewhere else’?

You don’t know the people reviewing the product, but you trust what they say. That’s because 92% of people trust recommendations from individuals. For today’s consumers, positive word of mouth from influencers is inspirational and persuasive, and targeting these influential voices with the aim of positively changing people’s perceptions, or increasing their knowledge of potatoes, is essential.

Whereas other marketing channels may reach a higher audience, influencer campaigns can have a greater impact and are more likely to drive behaviour change.

AHDB Potatoes’ new programme – Influence the Influencer – aims to close and correct the knowledge gap which surrounds potatoes.Potatoes are a source of fibre and potassium, naturally fat and gluten free, but that isn’t always appreciated by consumers.

The aim of the Influencer programme is a simple one; to dispel the myths and promote the benefits of eating potatoes by engaging with the appropriate influencers – anyone from parliamentarians, dieticians, NGOs to journalists and food bloggers.

Stephen Farmer is a potato marketing manager at AHDB