Misfiring marketing? Are ineffective strategies contributing to region's nutritional woes?

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

The root cause of under-nutrition and malnutrition in Southeast Asia is due to ineffective marketing methods, according to consulting firm Hystra. ©Getty Images
The root cause of under-nutrition and malnutrition in Southeast Asia is due to ineffective marketing methods, according to consulting firm Hystra. ©Getty Images

Related tags Marketing Nutrition Indonesia

The root cause of under-nutrition and malnutrition is not the lack of nutritional products, but ineffective marketing methods, according to business consulting firm Hystra.

Olivia Kayser, partner and managing director at Hystra, shared this view when presenting at the inaugural SEAChange webinar titled “Does better nutrition needs to be expensive?”

“Often times what we find out is that the products do exist, the scientists have done their job to come out with the right technical solution with the right product. But the issue is how to market the product to the people who need them most,”​ he said.

He said that one effective marketing strategy is to provide constant or daily reminders to consumers.

Citing the example of Nutrizaza, a social enterprise in Madagascar, he said that children are consuming meals more regularly due to the enterprise’s daily home delivery efforts.

By providing daily home delivery of ready-to-eat warm porridge, it was found that children are eating an average of 18 meals per month, which he described as “a very good level of compliance (of consuming nutritional food).” 

Rewards and evidence

Devising methods that help consumers measure their health improvements in “tangible terms” ​is another way to encourage consumption of nutritional food.   

 “When people find that the products can give them better health, the efficacy of the product will spread through word-of-mouth, which in turn increases sales, this will retain sales force, and increase the availability of the product,”​ Kayser said.

Providing visual information is also important for outreach, Professor Hardinasyah, president of Indonesian Food and Nutrition Society added. 

 “I have a group of young nutritionists, I train them to produce infographics to educate the young people. The way to educate is through infographics, not just the wording, but the colours and short videos.”

The society itself is active in Facebook, Instagram, and Line, social media platforms which are popular with youngsters. 

However, the same marketing strategy cannot be applied to all age groups. He recommended holding community talks for audience aged 40 and above.

Taste and Convenience

Besides effective marketing, taste and convenience of preparation of the products are equally important, as they determine how attractive the product is.

“Nutrition does not sell….What we saw about nutritional products is that they needed to be tasty…This is an absolute must,”​ Kayser pointed out.

This is because health benefits alone would not necessarily encourage consumers to make the right choices, as seen in the case of smokers and drinkers, who chose to smoke and drink despite knowing its negative effects on health. 

Second, nutritional products must be easy to prepare, even for consumers in underdeveloped countries.

“Sometimes rich people seem to think that poor people in developing countries have a lot of time because they are unemployed.”

“It is not true, the mothers have a lot on their plate and they can’t handle all the activities on their own. Asking them to cook special food for their kids is not something they can do. Thus saving their time is a critical element,”​ he said.  

Corporate plans

During the webinar, participants were asked if they were actively seeking nutrition-related partnerships in South East Asia or Indonesia.

A total of 35 organisations  (88%) gave a positive response. 

In addition, nearly 20 of them (51%) said they intend to develop food and beverage products for low- to middle-income consumers over the next 6-12 months to address the problem of malnutrition in the SEA.

Related topics Nutrition Business

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