Building a Local Food Campaign Supported by Vermonters: Rooted in Vermont
Farm to Plate Network/Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
We couldn't be prouder to be a part of the creation of the Rooted in Vermont local food campaign. It was several years in the making backed by a team of creative and passionate marketers as well as the Farm to Plate Consumer Education and Marketing Work Group. This campaign truly took a village to develop and to now bring to life in the Green Mountains. Keep reading below to learn about the campaign objectives, strategies and outcomes. Join in to share how you are Rooted in Vermont.
Objective: Develop a local food campaign that is built by Vermont consumers. Consumer demand research conducted by Skillet Creative with the Vermont Farm to Plate Network showed that Vermonters want to see the local food movement more connected to Vermont traditions and communities. A grassroots local food marketing campaign needed to address the fact that Vermonters feel disconnected to local food due to the notion of its trendiness and lack of affordability. The campaign also needs to increase consumer demand in Vermont’s local food economy.
Strategy: After numerous consumer focus groups conducted statewide, Skillet Creative developed the “Rooted in Vermont” local food campaign as a result of feedback from Vermont consumers. Vermonters explained that local food is based in tradition but because now local food is trendy it has lost some of the value and accessibility for the majority of Vermont consumers. Working with team members of the Farm to Plate Network, Skillet outlined a social media test pilot campaign to demonstrate if “Rooted in Vermont” resonates with Vermonters in social media. One of the overarching goals was to capture feedback and analytics to help inform tactics to include in the marketing strategy of the broader local food campaign.
Intended Outcomes & Key Takeaways:
Intended Outcome #1: Members of the Farm to Plate Consumer Education & Marketing Working Group will use the #RootedinVermont hashtag to test grassroots social media opportunities and consumer engagement throughout the state, over a four-month period (July-October, 2016).
Key Takeaway #1: Working Group Members have been actively participating in #RootedinVermont, but only 25% of content posted is from working group members. There is opportunity for much higher involvement from Farm to Plate Network members. More outreach and value proposition needs to be presented to members and Vermont businesses in order for them to understand the value of their organization getting involved in Rooted in Vermont. A business-focused webinar will be developed to encourage involvement.
Intended Outcome #2: A collaborative grassroots marketing process will be tested and adjusted for effectiveness between statewide promotion and regional organizations that can then be further developed when implementing the local food campaign.
Key Takeaway #2: Through targeted efforts to reach consumer profiles of the outdoor enthusiast, value-driven shopper and young working professional, we have used available resources to speak directly to these groups. For example, Facebook ads target those who like the page, their friends, and Vermonters age 21-55 with interests that include outdoor recreation, hunting, fishing, TV, shopping, family, and vehicles. In addition, a high level of ‘fan’ content has been shared with #RootedinVermont.
Intended Outcome #3: Highlight producers and Network organizations throughout the state by involving them in the grassroots social media promotion.
Key Takeaway #3: We learned that content that was promotional in nature didn’t perform as well on social channels (Facebook especially) compared to content that featured real Vermonters and how they connect to local food. We were able to hone the message and the message refinement has helped to differentiate Rooted from other social media channels that also include messaging about local food.
Intended Outcome #4: Take advantage of the ‘reach’ of social media to tap into the local food campaign's targeted consumers in locations all across the state. The hashtag test will provide both consumer feedback and analytics in rural and urban locations by promoting meaningful content (photos, imagery, videos, etc.) that celebrates where and how Vermonters connect with local food and starts to help build a brand around pride, community, tradition, and equity as consumers relate to food.
Key Takeaway #4: Across all three platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) approximately 65% of all users are Vermonters. In addition, based on the location-based demographics available, it is estimated that over 60% of users are outside the Chittenden County area.
Intended Outcome #5: Capture both photos and social media influencers to be used in the local food campaign that resonate and reach the three campaign target audiences (consumer profiles).
Key Takeaway #5: To date, @RootedinVermont has collected over 5,000 images and videos to be used in the local food campaign, in addition they have surpasses 7,000 followers on Facebook—the network identified as used most often by the target consumers.
Rooted in Vermont is shifting the local food narrative on social media and in Vermont communities to be inclusive of the many ways Vermonters enjoy and acquire local food.
Traditions like gardening, hunting, fishing, and foraging are as core to Vermont’s local food movement as purchasing local food from farmers, restaurants, schools, and stores. Grassroots marketing efforts targeted towards Vermonters not already committed to purchasing local food will aim to stimulate increased awareness, participation, and purchases in Vermont’s local food economy and help local food consumption become mainstream in the next 5-10 years.
When Vermont consumers not already committed to buying local food begin to get more engaged in the Rooted in Vermont movement, education and marketing efforts will encourage Vermonters to demonstrate increased demand. At the same time, as more local food becomes available and affordable in all market channels (retail, restaurants, institutions, direct sale), purchases will increase in the Vermont local food economy.