Defend Foster Farms’ market share when store and competitor brands labeled “fresh and natural” appeared to offer the same quality as Foster Farms at a lower cost.
With the retail landscape changing and the economy in a downward spiral, giant competitors, poultry products and private labels had become more compelling to consumers for their lower prices. However, most competing brands that claimed to be fresh and “natural” were actually injected with saltwater to make the product look bigger, while significantly increasing sodium content and water weight. Research showed that consumers did not realize there was a difference between truly natural, fresh chicken like Foster Farms and saltwater-injected (“plumped”) fresh chicken. The company needed to defend against market share loss by showing consumers what they were risking with lower-cost alternatives.
Consumer survey findings regarding lack of awareness regarding “plumping” were used to begin discussion about the issue. Fineman PR launched the campaign by strategically selecting The Wall Street Journal for an advance on the story. The resulting placement investigated hidden sodium in so-called healthy foods, and the deception behind “plumped” chicken.
Fineman PR secured national and local media coverage to establish campaign credibility. Momentum would increase and be sustained by driving consumer buzz online and offline through social media, the animated website, www.saynotoplumping.com, and blogger relations. High-traffic consumer events provided opportunity for direct engagement and local media coverage.
Fineman PR successfully educated consumers about the issue of plumping, and inspired action. Foster Farms tracked a significant shift in the way its target consumer – West Coast moms – thinks about and buys chicken with 62% of those polled saying knowing about plumping made them more likely to buy Foster Farms.
The agency secured widespread positive media coverage of “plumping” which established Foster Farms as an industry leader and consumer advocate. Consumers discussed the issue in social media forums, with Facebook and Twitter boasting a combined follower-reach of more than 1 million. The campaign was lauded in The Los Angeles Times in a staff editorial for bringing the issue of plumping to light and for maintaining the integrity of truly natural chicken.
Foster Farms’ Say No to Plumping Campaign influenced change in the poultry/food industry, reviving an effort to encourage the USDA to redefine the labeling rules for “natural” on fresh chicken. Senator Barbara Boxer commended Foster Farms in a press conference where she urged the USDA to change its definition of “natural” chicken.
Foster Farms benefitted from the communications program which slowed market share loss against private labeled chicken despite the brand’s price premium. Though private label fresh chicken continues to grow in market share, it is not taking share from Foster Farms.