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By Steve Johnson, Chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission

As a grower and Floridian, I am all too familiar with the devastation that accompanies natural disasters. But I also know that after every storm, the sun will shine again. Today, I am thinking of and praying for our fellow citrus growers in Texas who are facing an unprecedented challenge. We feel your pain and hope for sunshine soon.

In Florida, we continue to focus on our own recovery on both the production side as well as consumption. The Florida Department of Citrus remains focused on e-commerce programs that drive sales of Florida Orange Juice, particularly among lapsed OJ buyers. These programs continue to perform well, reaching more than 251 million impressions and driving $11.3 million in attributed sales of 100% orange juice at a Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) of $8.13 since July.

By now you have heard a lot about the e-commerce component of the FDOC marketing campaign. And rightfully so as driving sales continues to be central to everything they do. However, the e-commerce program doesn’t operate in a silo. One critical component of the campaign continues to be partnerships with influencers on social media and in traditional media. These partnerships are crucial to connecting with consumers and raising awareness of the health benefits of Florida Orange Juice as we ultimately work toward purchase.

If you are in my demographic you may not be aware of the outsized power influencers have today. As I am learning, influencers have become an integral part of marketing campaigns for everything from beauty products to shoes to retail grocery store chains by promoting products to their followers who turn to them for trusted advice and suggestions.

This year, the FDOC partnered with a diverse range of 15 influencers with large followings on social media platforms and blogs. These influencers include moms, dads and health professionals focused on sharing lifestyle tips, nutrition information and recipes. In recent months, partnerships have focused on Winter Wellness, highlighting Florida Orange Juice’s role in supporting a healthy immune system and brightening up winter. The FDOC, along with partner agency Edible, work one-on-one with each influencer to ensure specific messaging is incorporated into the posts and is tailored to fit each influencer’s style.

One example of a recent partnership is a blog and social media post shared by Palek Patel of The Chutney Life. Palek has 133,000 followers on Instagram where she connects with her audience by sharing Indian-inspired recipes and her life as a toddler mom. She shared a post on how she gets through the cold and dark Pennsylvania winter months by focusing on small things she can do to lift her spirits and support her health. She highlighted how Florida Orange Juice “provides many nutrients my body needs to stay healthy throughout the whole year” including specific details on the nutritional benefits an 8 oz. glass provides for her and her family. The Instagram post had more than 6,000 likes and 66 comments, including one that said “OK I need orange juice now!”

The FDOC is also branching out beyond mom and women to reach the men who make up half of the lapsed buyer audience. A recent partnership with Derek Campanile of Dad With A Pan featured a smoothie recipe and messaging on the immune support Florida Orange Juice provides. Derek has more than 37,000 followers and often talks about his life as a dad, hockey fan and recipe maker.

The FDOC is also partnering with influential people in traditional media with a focus on health professionals who can dispel some of the common myths surrounding 100% orange juice as well as share health and nutrition research with national and local news outlets. These include journalist and Registered Dietitian Lauren Manaker who has recently contributed to popular news outlets PopSugar on different ways orange juice contributes to health.

The FDOC plans to continue working with influencers this season as part of National Nutrition Month in March and National OJ Day in May. Additionally, plans are in the works to increase the ability of influencers to more directly drive sales of Florida Orange Juice through PriceSpider, technology that allows the FDOC to connect consumers with products from its retail partners on the FloridaJuice.com website. More details to come on that soon.

Lastly, I share the resignation of Commissioner Dan Casper from the Florida Citrus Commission, effective this week. Dan served the Florida Citrus industry for more than 33 years and spent seven years as a commissioner. With his recent retirement from Southern Gardens comes new adventures. We wish him all the best. 

Originally published in the Florida Citrus Mutual Triangle