Marketing program

R&D levy funds cannot be used for marketing and promotions, but in 2014 a new $1.00/tonne marketing levy was raised with the objective of increasing onion consumption.

The marketing project – Secret Serve – focuses on the increased sale and consumption of all onions (red, white, brown, loose and bagged), however the primary effort is on brown onions for domestic consumption.

The onion industry and Horticulture Innovation Australia commissioned consumer and sales research to provide the background for the onion marketing program.

The key findings of the research work were:

  • Medium buyers are under indexed, particularly bagged onions
  • Medium buyers are increasingly made up of families with young children
  • Due to developmental flavour and mouth feel preferences, ages 4-12 are a critical period for developing a lasting distaste for bitter vegetables like onions. This is happening all over Australia and is limiting onion consumption of the entire household.
  • Children of medium buyers prefer carrots, potatoes or tomatoes
  • The key insight was young and new families would be keen to consume more onions if they knew how to prepare them

A survey of 500 people indicated that:

  • 47.6% said they would increase consumption if they knew more ways to prepare onions
  • 38.8% said they would increase consumption if everyone in the house enjoyed onions
  • 38.2% said they would increase consumption if they knew more about the health benefits of onions

Objectives of the Secret Serve campaign

  • Achieve 3-5% year on year growth by end Year 2, starting off a production base of 240,000 tonnes
  • Introduce a new generation of young Australians to onions
  • Have onions be seen as a reliable, affordable, healthy, flavoursome staple of the family meal
  • Inspire the use of onions in home prepared meals

Target market

  • Families with children (average age 5 and 7)

Demographic and consumer behaviour

  • 58% likelihood that the Mother has recently returned to full time work
  • One weekly “big shop”, with occasional trips to get top up ingredients
  • 74% of kids meals are prepared in the family kitchen
  • Grandparents also prepare meals for the kids
  • Kids are getting 15% of their daily energy from juice and soft drinks
  • Boys need 4.5 servings of veggies per day but there is a 57% chance they don’t get this
  • On average, it’s harder to get boys to eat vegetables