Ontario marketing campaign raises awareness of soy food health benefits

A marketing campaign designed to raise awareness of the health benefits of soy food has generated some impressive results. According to consumer research commissioned by Oilseed Innovation Partners (OIP – formerly Soy 20/20), soy consumption by Ontarians has increased from 26 to 43 per cent since 2014.

Health Canada approved a health claim in 2015 linking the consumption of protein-rich soy food to lowering cholesterol levels.

Scientific evidence has shown that consuming a minimum of 25 grams of soy protein per day helps reduce cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease. According to Statistics Canada data, 39 per cent of Canadians aged six to 79 years have unhealthy levels of total cholesterol.

OIP spearheaded the original submission of the claim, and last year, the organization took the lead in helping Canadian soy food companies communicate those health benefits to Canadian consumers.

This included development of a word mark logo that can be added to product packaging alongside the health claim statement, as well as videos featuring soy recipes and health claim information and a four-month digital media awareness campaign.

“The health claim is a great tool for the Canadian soy food industry to raise awareness of the many healthy attributes of eating soy,” said OIP CEO Jeff Schmalz. “These tools help companies promote the benefits of soy consumption – and we’re impressed with the results the campaign has shown.”

The digital media activity garnered more than 69.3 million impressions, which OIP Director of Marketing Nancy Cogger says is more than 200 per cent higher than they’d anticipated.

Almost 23,000 click-throughs to the Soy for Life website were registered, where a video explaining the health claim and recipes for soy-based main courses and desserts were particularly popular.

OIP also conducted some follow up research with 1,000 Ontario consumers to measure their campaign’s success in creating awareness of soy, increasing usage occasions for soy, and expanding soy use to consumers 55+.

Overall, 18 per cent of respondents reported seeing both the word mark and the health claim, whereas among soy users, 25 per cent reported seeing both and among loyal soy users, that awareness rose to over 50 per cent.

“The soy word mark logo had higher recognition than the health claim as visuals are more impactful,” explains Cogger, adding that 26 per cent of respondents indicated seeing the word mark whereas only 18 per cent recognized the health claim.

Sixty-nine per cent of light and heavy soy users responded that they’d be more likely to purchase soy food and beverage products after seeing the health claim. The percentage of light and heavy soy users who indicated that soy foods are used occasionally or are a staple food rose to 43 per cent from only 25 per cent in 2014.

The number of soy users age 55 and over has increased by 14 per cent from 42 per cent (the level it was at in 2014) to 56 per cent. Sixty-one per cent of respondents in that demographic reported they would be more likely to buy soy foods and beverages after reviewing the health claim.

“There are many health benefits to soy food and this research shows the impact we can have on soy consumption when we inform consumers of those health benefits,” says Cogger. “This is a direct benefit to consumer health, as well as Canadian soy food manufacturers and Canadian soybean growers and opens up many new growth possibilities for this industry.”

Oilseed Innovation Partners receives funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.