Launching Kemin Into the Functional Foods Market
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Holmes Report
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Launching Kemin Into the Functional Foods Market

After six years of market-making success in the vitamin and dietary supplement industry, Kemin Foods, a global manufacturer and marketer of natural antioxidant ingredients, decided to develop a new product based on its FloraGLO brand lutein, to offer to t

Paul Holmes

After six years of market-making success in the vitamin and dietary supplement industry, Kemin Foods, a global manufacturer and marketer of natural antioxidant ingredients, decided to develop a new product based on its FloraGLO brand lutein, to offer to the burgeoning functional food market.  Lutein was well known in the supplement market as a result of MWW’s work, having grown from 0% unaided recognition in 1995 to 44% in 2001. But Kemin Foods was unknown in the food market and there had been no lutein product previously offered in that market. 

As Kemin perfected the ingredient product in the laboratory and won regulatory approval (GRAS or generally recognized as safe for food), The MWW Group worked in designing and implementing a strategic positioning for the new lutein product’s introduction by quietly building a strong marketing and brand recognition for FloraGLO lutein in the food and drink ingredients trade press, a necessary action for market entry.  The MWW Group worked with Kemin and its market research partners in determining marketing messages with the highest resonance among manufacturers and consumers. 

FloraGLO lutein gained GRAS approval in May 2001.  As planned, one month later, The MWW Group spearheaded the new product launch at one of the industry’s largest trade shows, the annual Institute of Food Technologists Food Expo (IFT).   With limited time and budget, MWW executed an integrated media campaign that saturated key food and beverage product manufacturing influencers with news about the safety and market viability of FloraGLO lutein. Results included coverage in EVERY food and beverage trade publication on our target media list, a special marketing supplement we arranged and wrote for a leading food trade publication distributed to every IFT attendee and exhibitor, and numerous other editorial placements where we controlled the positioning of FloraGLO lutein’s market potential.

OPPORTUNITY

Over several years, we helped Kemin take lutein from obscurity to one of the top-selling ingredients in the entire vitamin and dietary supplement category.  The challenge was to transfer that recognition to a market where the product and Kemin was unknown. The advantage and included into all of our key messages is that this was a unique product being the first and only lutein to achieve GRAS status. Therefore, FloraGLO was the premier source for food and beverage manufacturers to gain sales by enriching their products with this high-demand ingredient.  Demand had skyrocketed in the last two years because the antioxidant lutein is believed to help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in the United States, and other degenerative eye conditions.   Consumers had been feeding their demand for FloraGLO lutein with over 60 vitamin and dietary supplement products on store shelves.  According to preliminary research completed, there was significant interest in functional food products such as ready-to-eat cereals, fruit drinks and breakfast/granola bars fortified with lutein.  It made sense for Kemin Foods to expand their lutein brand and market share by entering the functional food category.

RESEARCH & PLANNING

Over the past year, we conducted extensive industry research, including a Market Facts study (a telephone sampling of 1,000 consumers) and an Internet questionnaire.  Both concluded encouraging results including:
· 63% of respondents were interested in purchasing lutein-fortified foods and beverages and among the health conscious consumers that percent increases to 92%. 
· Awareness of the antioxidant lutein is up to 70% among health-conscious consumers. 
· Lutein is one nutrient that has gained remarkable ground among the public, with aided awareness soaring to more than 44% percent in 2001 from 5% just five years earlier.  Awareness among females was over 50%. 

OBJECTIVES

· Develop a comprehensive media relations campaign for the introduction and launch of Kemin Foods ingredient, FloraGLO lutein, into the functional food market at the Institute of Food Technologists Food Expo
· Introduce FloraGLO lutein to the industry and announce/explain GRAS approval 
· Begin branding FloraGLO lutein in the functional food category
· Build sales leads at the IFT show and beyond

STRATEGIC APPROACH

· Create maximum impact by focusing efforts on the largest trade show immediately after achieving regulatory approval
· Reach out to national industry trade audience including functional foods and vitamin and dietary supplement/nutraceutical trade publications 
· Emphasize FloraGLO lutein’s unique position as the market leader in VDS and the first of its kind to enter functional food market
· Highlight Kemin Foods preliminary market research results
· Alert trade editors and reporters to approaching GRAS approval

CAMPAIGN EXECUTION

· Persistent follow up with IFT pre-registered press list and additional trade editors and reporters to keep them abreast about the approaching GRAS process for FloraGLO lutein  
· Appointed official panel of spokespersons from Kemin Foods to be available at all times to answer technical questions on GRAS approval and process, and also to convey the health benefits of lutein-rich foods to editors and reporters
· Organized and executed trade media relations launch around final GRAS approval and distributed a press kit with media advisory, news release, GRAS technical paper, company background, research information and magazine supplement upon announcement 
· Arranged media interview sessions at the booth, offering reporters Kemin technical staff and sales/marketing contacts throughout the duration of the IFT show
· Consulted Kemin on other promotional and marketing opportunities at the show, including direct mail piece for show attendees several weeks before IFT
· Pitched exclusive interviews and bylined articles when appropriate
· Worked with a leading functional food publication, Food Product Design, to create a six-page color supplement for their magazine titled “Lutein comes of Age:  Incorporating Lutein into Foods and Beverages”.  The supplement was poly-bagged with the June issue of Food Product Design and distributed to regular subscribers and to every attendee and exhibitor at the IFT show
· Instrumental in planning and consulting on trade show booth design, booth media kits, collateral materials and giveaway items
· Advertised in targeted functional food trade publications and vitamin and dietary supplement/nutraceutical trade media, coinciding with GRAS campaign

SUMMARY OF RESULTS

Total Circulation –Over 1 million

Total Impressions – Over 2.9 million impressions

Sales leads from IFT –The MWW Group’s thorough preparation and introduction at the IFT show generated over 65 strong sales leads with both large consumer and industry food and beverage companies.   To date, Kemin is still following up with leads generated from the show.

Audience Reach – national coverage of nutraceutical trade publications, functional food trade magazines and publications

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