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Over the years, the Council’s focus has changed to include an important stakeholder in its promotion work; consumer. After all, we know that consumer is king and wields enormous power in purchasing decisions. Activities are now skewed towards this important stakeholder. Consumer programmes have become important platforms for education on palm oil. Palm oil after all, is widely consumed worldwide and is a key ingredient in many multi cultural preparations. Therefore, it’s always easy to include it any event where food is the central theme to convey messages. While conventional activities such as print media campaigns and participation in exhibitions are necessary to keep consumers informed on new developments, consumer centric activities are important to help tap into the power of social media in order to get messages across to a much larger audience.

palm-oil-indiaCelebrity presence and endorsement has proved to be successful in getting consumers to appreciate palm oil. It was highly encouraging to see celebrities from Pakistan, India and China supporting Malaysian palm oil. Celebrity endorsement plays a very important role in creating mass awareness and appeal. Celebrities have the power to influence consumer purchasing. For e.g. in India, the celebrities most looked to are either from Bollywood, the largest film industry in the world with over 1000 films produced every year, or the sporting arena, mainly cricket. A whopping 14 million Indians watch movies every day, giving an annual audience of more than 5 billion! Not forgetting the followers celebrities have on their blogs /twitter or face book account. After all, celebrity endorsements have been successfully used in many political campaigns as candidates understand the appeal and power celebrities have on their followers.

In India, the Malaysian Palm Oil Fun, Food & Lifestyle event kept the audience entertained throughout the two hour show with cricketer Irfan Pathan and Bollywood actress Huma Qureshi pitting their cooking skills on stage which ended in a tie for the sumptuous dishes they prepared. Consumers learnt about palm oil in a fun yet entertaining way and their knowledge on palm oil during the quiz proved that the message was well understood. When messages are conveyed in a manner that’s entertaining, it remains in the mind of the consumer. The presence of a celebrity helped to reinforce the message and attracted wide coverage from electronic, print and social media sites .

Speaking to some of the celebrities made me realize how important it is to provide the right information on palm oil. Once they had sufficient information in hand, the buy in to a product like palm oil that has a strong health and nutrition appeal is rather easy and they are more than happy to lend support.

Consumers use the internet as a source of information. Unfortunately, information often gets distorted on the internet. While it may not be possible to correct the distorted information, it is important that we try to penetrate the social media sites and convey the right information so that consumers hear both sides of the story. The consumer after all needs to have all information in hand to make a rational decision.

The one notable success of the fun and entertaining event with celebrities was how it created a huge buzz for palm oil and a continuous conversation on various social media sites. The event was merely a platform used to get our messages out. The social media sites helped reinforce the message. One simple event with the presence of celebrities helped to occupy the social media space with many more positive messages on palm oil.

 

Belvinder Sron is the Director of Branding & Promotions at MPOC . She can be contacted at bel@mpoc.org.my

 

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