How an Industry Group Is Changing the Discourse

Looking to change public opinion on canned foods, the Can Manufacturers Institute sought a third-party partner—and has made strides in increasing awareness on the benefits of canned foods.

Unrequited love. It’s a story as old as time—and it’s a theme oft-featured in fiction, the genre I tend to escape to on my metro ride to and from the office. And whether its Little Women‘s Jo and Laurie or The Interestings’  Ethan Figman and Jules Jacobson, unrequited love is heartbreaking to read.

It can be heartbreaking for industry sectors, too. For instance, imagine the heartbreak of can manufacturers who know that canned food would offer busy moms the ingredients they need to create tasty, healthy family meals … if only they would give them a chance! Yet, it seems that canned food is scorned and ignored in the grocery store aisles, with moms instead filling their shopping carts with the industry’s fresh and frozen counterparts.

It’s a true story. Several years ago, manufacturers approached the Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) with a problem: How can we get people buying canned foods again?

At that time, there was a lot in the news—and in the general public’s opinion—about shopping the perimeter of the grocery store rather than the center of the store, where canned food is generally stacked.

After some research, CMI found that while many consumers were, in fact, actually buying and using canned foods, there was room for growth, said Sherrie Rosenblatt, CMI’s vice president of marketing and communications. “We could inform, educate, and inspire them with ways to utilize them more,” she said.

But essentially what CMI had to do was shift public opinion and change the discourse around canned foods—and that’s no easy task.

Enter the Cans Get You Cooking campaign. Launched in February 2013, the campaign sought to inform the public—namely busy moms—on the merits of canned food. Along with can-centric recipes and videos, there’s also a tab on the site that informs users on the nutrition and canning processes of these foods.

To further spread the word, this year CMI linked up with Meredith Corporation, which owns AllRecipes and an array of shelter magazines, to reach their target audience of busy moms.

In exchange for a special assessment, paid for by manufacturers of food cans, Meredith Corporation hosted an eight-episode video series called “All Across the Cantry,” which showcased recipes and the nutritional benefits of canned-food cooking. The episodes were distributed across Meredith properties, such as, Parents, Martha Stewart Living, Better Homes and Gardens, EatingWell, and Meredith’s Digital Engagement Video Network.

The partnership has “exceeded all expectations,” said Rosenblatt.

According to a recent press release, the video series has elicited “more than 21 million video views, 176,000 recipe page views, 1.428 million earned followers, and an average of nearly three minutes spent with the content in a given session.”

Recent research by a consumer research company also confirms that awareness around the campaign’s main themes is growing incrementally. For example, in a targeted pool of canned food consumers, 17 percent of respondents said that they knew cans seal in nutrition, freshness, and flavor naturally, as compared to 11 percent in 2014.

“Our ultimate goal is to get canned-food users to use canned foods more often,” Rosenblatt said. “If Cans Get You Cooking and the Meredith Corporation partnership—as the number-one recipe site—can help that busy mom to have an easy solution that she’s comfortable and confident serving to her family, so that she can spend time with them rather than in the kitchen—it’s a win-win.”

How has your association tackled a similar challenge? Please leave us your thoughts below.


Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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