Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, among other grains. Many people eat it without thinking twice, but for millions of Americans with gluten allergies and/or celiac disease, gluten related foods are not an option.
Historically, specialty grocery stores were the only places that carried gluten-free products, and often for a premium cost, and a less-than-premium flavor.
To help make these products more widely available, Betty Crocker introduced a line of gluten free baking mixes, becoming the first major national brand to offer these products in mainstream grocery stores. The company worked with OLSON to launch a national media relations campaign, focusing on publications writing about the topic, long- and short-lead food, health and new product editors and select social media outlets.
The campaign used research from Betty Crocker and the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition, previously conducted studies and past news coverage to create content and establish how many consumers might be interested in the product line.
Among their findings:
- One in nine U.S. households watches, reduces or avoids gluten intake.
- Media stories indicated that there was definitely a need for gluten-free products in mainstream grocery stores
- Gluten intolerance did not get nearly the amount of attention and coverage that other limitations, such as dairy and nut allergies, received.
Campaign strategies included familiarizing the media with the product via a taste testing kit and media kit, which used a baking pan as the package. The testing kit offered baked samples of Betty Crocker Gluten Free Brownies along with those of a competitor.
Campaign results were delicious:
- As of 2010, the four Betty Crocker Gluten Free SKUs were the top four best turning gluten-free baking mix SKUs in the grocery store.
- Twenty-six media outlets covered the new mixes, for 27 million impressions
- Eighty publications conducted a taste test or ran reviews.
- Publications included Good Housekeeping, Woman’s Day.com, New York Times, Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, Wall Street Journal and Chicago Tribune.
- More than 75 percent of all publications educated readers on gluten intolerance and celiac disease.
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