A Word from the Board: The Almond Board of California

Cutting-Edge Tools Boost Efficiency in Almond Board Marketing

Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM) allows Almond Board of California to adjust its spectrum of marketing efforts almost on the fly to make every campaign, dollar and piece of information as impactful as possible.
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The Almond Board of California’s (ABC) partnership with one of the most respected research companies in the world has been paying big dividends for the Global Market Development (GMD) team and is filling a crucial need in this fast-changing era of ever-shifting trends, media use and consumer tastes.

The GMD team has partnered with Nielsen, the global leader in measuring and analyzing markets, data and media, using a tool called Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM) that lets ABC adjust its spectrum of marketing efforts almost on the fly to make every campaign, dollar and piece of information as impactful as possible.

The most recent MMM results have shown that ABC media is working despite strong headwinds, and recent campaigns have reached new heights.

Health messaging, specifically the new social ads featuring heart health and diabetes, exceeded benchmarks and were some of the top-performing tactics in social media.
ABC’s Thor: Love and Thunder partnership showed very strong performance in the U.S., Italy and U.K.

The U.S. Your Friend in Wellness campaign showed stronger effectiveness and lift compared to the prior campaign.

Year-over-year cost optimizations made in the U.S. and Italy paid off, improving overall campaign performance in both markets.

While a lot of ABC media performed above industry benchmarks, the March Madness flight fell short when compared to Thor: Love and Thunder and Your Friend in Wellness campaigns.

“This leading-edge analysis helps us make the best use of every dollar we spend building demand in the U.S. and across the globe,” said Emily Fleischmann, ABC vice president of Global Market Development. “Just as importantly, it helps us continue to finetune every marketing effort to build on our longstanding success and make everything we do even more effective.”

In short, ABC is using MMM to analyze and compare the effectiveness of a range of ABC marketing campaigns in different markets in the U.S. and Western Europe, and it can evaluate individual tactics of one advertising campaign, ranging from online video, social media and TV ads to public relations, sponsorships and more. Plus, the information and learnings can be helpful to other marketing efforts in several ways.

Often, traditional marketing analyses face difficulties equating metrics from individual marketing tactics because the information comes in different forms, like trying to compare the salary value of a player in the NBA versus a player in the NFL.

But Nielsen and MMM analytics transform that information into apple-to-apple comparisons so the GMD team can make the best, real-time decisions on how to reach consumers and optimize short-term marketing plans in the face of those fast-changing tastes.

“The core focus of the almond industry investment in ABC is directed at all of the marketing programs to build global demand, including advertising, public relations, influencer partnerships and much more worldwide,” Fleischmann said. “So, a core focus for ABC is measuring and evaluating those programs to be sure every dollar has a maximum impact.”

Marketing Mix Modeling
What Nielsen does for ABC is called regression analysis. They sort through all the incoming data and potential impacts on retail snack almond sales and demand, then find the programs that create the most value and measures the degree of that value.

The analysis uses sophisticated math that considers everything from economic factors, exchange rates, cultural differences and the size and nature of the target audiences to the impressions generated, the amount spent on a program and the tools and media it was spent on. It also filters away the outside forces, including seasonal trends, in-store promotions and everything in between. This fancy math lets ABC isolate certain elements of marketing to learn why sales went up or down.

All of this is being done by Nielsen, the acknowledged world leader in market research and the gold standard in MMM. They’ve been honing their approach for 30 years and are now in 40 countries working for more than 500 brands, including some of the world’s largest companies.

The result for ABC and the almond industry is a clear picture of the return on investment (ROI) for campaigns and tactics.

“This gives us data and solid insights about which marketing components, campaigns and even specific parts of a campaign or media placement are working the hardest for us,” said Laura Morin, ABC director of North America and China global market development. “ABC’s primary marketing goal is to build long-term demand, and a crucial part of that is understanding the near-term impact of our tactics so we can adjust if necessary to make them even more effective.”

Almond Board Marketing is Working
If there is one overall takeaway from the recently pulled data, it’s that ABC marketing plans are working hard for the industry. That’s the findings after ABC used MMM to evaluate all marketing tactics in the U.S., Italy and U.K., including public relations activity, influencer partnerships, traditional media and digital media, like social, connected TV and ads on Amazon.

“While the industry has been facing a lot of headwinds this past year,” Morin said, “MMM results show that the Almond Board’s marketing efforts have made a strong positive impact for the industry.”

Key highlights from FY 2021/22 include:
Consumers loved the thunder
The partnership with Marvel Studios’ Thor: Love and Thunder in summer 2022 was one of ABC’s strongest performing fully integrated partnerships since they started using MMM. When looking at all the Thor campaign elements combined, the effectiveness outperformed the benchmark for the category. In fact, ABC’s Thor partnership outperformed past partnerships including the 2021 Olympics campaign featuring Kerri Walsh Jennings and the 2019 Women’s World Cup campaign featuring Julie Ertz.

Consumers are hungry for nutrition research
A recent Facebook and Instagram campaign featuring findings from ABC’s nutrition research on almonds and blood glucose showed promising results in all three markets. This efficient social campaign using ads that were relatively less expensive to design and run, versus paying more for development or spokespeople, outperformed the consumer-packaged goods industry’s benchmarks and Nielson’s benchmark in the U.S. for consumer-packaged foods in social media. Because of these promising results, ABC is now testing more social media advertising that features hard hitting facts about almond nutrition research.

Tik-ing or tube-ing, they both work
Your Friend in Wellness ads on social media platforms such as TikTok and YouTube are working. ABC continue to see high performance metrics compared to other social platforms.

Amazon is a strong investment
The new digital display ads with Amazon were one of the stronger investments added to the mix this past year. The advertising through Amazon with digital display had almost three times the effectiveness scores than the ABC average. Because of the high effectiveness scores, the team is seeing how this program element could be expanded.

Seeing results from applied learnings
In FY 2021/22, ABC adjusted its influencer and registered dietitian outreach based on MMM learnings and it worked. In fact, these tactics doubled in effectiveness year-over-year.

Working Smarter… and Harder
ABC is using the most recent MMM results to optimize marketing tactics happening as early as this winter and spring.

“One example is March Madness,” said Morin. “It’s an exciting place to advertise, but MMM showed the cost of media is too high, which means that dollar-for-dollar, the ROI wasn’t as good as our general TV placements. Instead, ABC’s U.S. team is putting more budget into additional Amazon placements and more traditional TV, which delivered a stronger return.”
MMM can also help marketers be smarter about how they buy and schedule media in places like social media platforms, TV, digital media and more. For instance, MMM found the Facebook and Instagram placements for Your Friend in Wellness in the U.S. needed to be adjusted because we had oversaturated the market. The good news is ABC could make small shifts immediately to put these learnings into action.

Making MMM a Standard Practice
Measuring marketing efforts can be complicated, but Nielsen’s MMM is a tool that goes a long way to help the ABC teams interpret what happened in the market and adjust upcoming plans.

“ABC is always looking for ways to apply a range of information and learnings to future plans to make them stronger,” Fleischmann said. “This is another sophisticated arrow in our quiver to keep building demand to support our industry.”