Michelle Singh, T&G Global’s marketing manager New Zealand, discusses the ‘Lotatoes Potatoes’ campaign that won the pma-produce plus Marketer of the Year Award.


The finalists for this year’s award showcased their campaigns at the Hort Connections trade show

The finalists for this year’s award showcased their campaigns at the Hort Connections trade show

Firstly, congratulations on winning the pma-produce plus Marketer of the Year Award (moya) for 2018. Can you tell us what this award means to you and the marketing team at T&G Global?

Michelle Singh: The marketing team and I are extremely proud and humbled to accept such a prestigious award in the fresh produce industry. Being recognised for the ‘Lotatoes Potatoes’ campaign across Australia and New Zealand highlights the need to understand our consumer trends and deliver a well-executed plan with a clear and simple message. 

There was a lot of hard work that went into this campaign to bring it from seed to plate with the support of our growers and our customer (Woolworths New Zealand’s Countdown stores). This is a big achievement for the marketing team at T&G Global, recognising our commitment to understanding our consumer needs and leading innovation in the industry.

As you’ve mentioned, your winning campaign was built around the launch of Lotatoes potatoes. Can you tell us about the target audience for the campaign and how you structured your activity to highlight the key selling points of Lotatoes? 

MS: Consumers are looking for healthy additions to their meals, with health and wellness being one of the biggest trends driving New Zealand supermarkets. The target audience for this campaign was segmented to the following profiles: explorer, and active nurturer. 

The explorer believes life is to be enjoyed and wants to get the very best out of every choice they make. 

The active nurturer believes in caring for themselves and their family, and sees themselves as an advocate for what’s good. They often share valuable content online to other parents. For both consumers, quality and information is key, with price being less of a barrier to purchase. 

Based on this, the key selling points of Lotatoes were kept simple and concise to ensure consumers could clearly identify and understand the proposition in store. The packaging reflects ‘premiumuness’ with an emphasis on the key selling points, health benefits and provenance. 

This message was then communicated to key media for mass appeal and reach. It also linked back to stores through point of sale (pos) materials. 

The target consumer makes informed decisions, therefore, a Lotatoes website was developed, online banner ads were placed on Countdown Online, and social media posts were generated to ensure product information was readily available via various forums.

 One of the more intriguing elements of the ‘Lotatoes Potatoes’ campaign was that you identified a gap in the market and sought to develop a product to fill it, rather than develop a product and attempt to carve out a space for it. Can you briefly outline this process and the rationale behind this move? 

MS: As a business, T&G Global puts the consumer at the heart of all innovation projects. The insight we received was that consumers were looking for healthy options within a category they’ve grown up with. Consumers want to enjoy potatoes without the guilt.

Following the insight, we began the search for a potato that delivered on this need. This involved working with seed producers and growers, in a process that took more than five years to come to market. The target segment likes to make informed decisions with wide access to information, therefore, it was important to follow a strict process to ensure any functional health claims we made supported the product and were not misleading to those consumers who made a purchase based on health benefits. 

Michelle Singh (second from right) with members of the T&G Global team

Michelle Singh (second from right) with members of the T&G Global team

Can you tell us how you positioned the offering in the New Zealand market once it was released? What sort of promotion/marketing activity did you undertake to raise awareness of Lotatoes and their health benefits? 

MS: Lotatoes have a unique selling proposition and a targeted consumer set, however, the branding and messaging does allow for mass appeal; it’s simple and precise. 

The marketing activity focused on branding. PR was a critical part of this campaign, with key New Zealand media picking up the launch campaign and providing national coverage due to the health benefits and strong brand identity. 

This was then followed in store with pos and via digital platforms. Throughout the campaign the message was the same, revolving around the health benefit, flavour and grower story.

 How has T&G Global measured the success of this marketing activity? Are there any figures that highlight how well the campaign has performed? 

MS: To date, over two-million Lotatoes potatoes have been sold to New Zealand consumers, and this number is steadily growing. Sales see Lotatoes within the top ten prepacked potato products in Countdown supermarkets. 

The PR value for this campaign was extraordinary, with a return on investment (roi) of 1:30 due to the extensive coverage Lotatoes received. As a result, we have also introduced another member to the Lotatoes family, Baby Lotatoes, for those consumers who prefer smaller potatoes in their meals.

Are you confident the marketing work you have done to date is sufficient to instil consumer confidence in Lotatoes and drive repeat purchases in New Zealand? 

MS: We are extremely confident that Lotatoes have created their own position within the New Zealand potato category. Sales continue to increase, consumers understand the messaging, and love the flavour. We get a lot of consumer feedback from loyal Lotatoes shoppers.

Lotatoes are being sold through Countdown stores

Lotatoes are being sold through Countdown stores

Looking ahead, can you tell us about any new marketing activity T&G Global has planned for Lotatoes and how this builds on what you have already been able to achieve? 

MS: We are considering a fully integrated marketing campaign that continues to drive brand awareness and education on the benefits of Lotatoes to consumers, which would support the work we’ve already done.

Likewise, has T&G Global got plans to take Lotatoes beyond the New Zealand market? 

MS: We are currently exploring our options around taking Lotatoes globally and how we can support this in other key markets. Watch this space.