Engaging Consumers on Heart Health Resolutions

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Beyond offering goods and services, there is need for manufacturers of foods and other health-related products to raise awareness on public health issues, Raheem Akingbolu reports

Educating consumers on sensitive health issues by manufacturers in the health and food sectors is one global practice that is being encouraged by concerned experts in Nigeria. It is believed that if consumers understand their body systems and what is good for their health, they will not be at risk in their food intake.

As Nigerian consumers begin the new year, promoters of Mamador, the premium cooking oil brand from PZ Wilmar, in continuation of their support for a healthy Nigeria, latched on the age long tradition of New Year Resolutions to campaign for healthy heart habits among consumers.

In what looked like an ambassadorial assignment, following the endorsement of the Mamador brand by the Nigerian Heart Foundation, the brand urged consumers to make and keep sound Heart Health resolutions for the year. The campaign, tagged ‘Pledge for Your Heart’ kicked off with activation in Lagos and it was said to be in furtherance of the brand’s Million Hearts Mission initiative which started in 2016 with a plan to actively encourage millions of consumers across Nigeria choose healthy lifestyles.

Meanwhile, in a build up campaign to the initiative, the company had stated that the Mamador brand believes that the secret to a healthy living is closely linked to how healthy the heart is and advocates that consumers make a decision to make adjustments that will favour their heart health.

Speaking at the flag off ceremony in Ikeja, Lagos, the Category Marketing Manager, Chioma Mbanugo explained that the brand intends to strongly continue its advocacy for a nation with a healthy heart which she said is one of the brand’s key objectives.

“It is an age-long tradition for people to make resolutions at the start of every year but more often than not, people do not remember their heart while making such resolutions. The Mamador brand believes that the secret to a healthy living is closely linked to how healthy the heart is and as such our aim is to encourage consumers to make adjustments that will favour their Heart Health even as they make resolutions about their general lifestyle and living” she said.

Within one week that the campaign broke, the promoters of the brand had held a total of 10 activations in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Ibadan and the key message to everyone who participated was to make a pledge to take better care of their heart in 2017. The company has indicated its determination to continue championing and advocate the cause for a healthy heart among Nigerians in the weeks ahead.

Other consumer engagement

Educating consumers on new invention, application and global marketing trends, is fast becoming a tool for public engagement.
Because of the sensitivity of the health sector, such campaigns are highly recommended to safeguard human lives. According to BRG Communications, a US-based Public Relations firm that engages mostly in consumer education, involving in consumer awareness campaign promotes mutual relationship between brand owners and the target audience.

For instance, in 2011, Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) launched the third phase of the Licensed Electrical Contractor campaign to increase public awareness of the importance of using Licensed Electrical Contractors. This campaign was said to have reflected input from all stakeholders and had achieved a consumer awareness rating that competed with some of the highest ranking campaigns.

In Nigeria, compared to other sectors, manufacturers in the food and health sectors of Nigerian economy, especially PZ Wilmar has since realised the growing need for in-depth consumer knowledge in the consumer health sector. In recent time, Glaxosmithkline Consumer Nigeria Plc and other companies like Unilever, and Procter & Gamble, have leveraged on the world health and oral day to engage consumers.

In the ongoing campaign, Mamador has deplored, among other means, grassroots and community activation, public service announcement and partnerships and strategic alliances and research to educate consumers on the need for Nigerians to make and keep sound Heart Health resolutions for the year.

The impact of the campaign has sent strong signal to stakeholders on ‘importance of heart health’, which is close to the brand’s heart. The company has also used it to demonstrate that beyond making profit, it was also keen about hearth health of its patrons by encouraging them to make decisions that would benefit their hearts; the pledge.

Boost for low cholesterol campaign
Though unintentional, in making ‘the pledge’ about heart health, consumers will have no choice but pitch their tent with low cholesterol or cholesterol products, either milk or cooking oil. However, considering the fact that Mamador is being positioned by its handlers as healthy cooking oil for heart health and tasty meals, this may be another opportunity to shore up the brand’s profile. Its cholesterol free campaign and presence of Omega 6 & 9 to keep heart healthy could also give the brand an edge in the market place while the campaign lasted. Since high cholesterol is believed to be one of the leading causes of heart disease today, consumers as a resolution would have no option but to go for cholesterol free intake. Experts have established that Individuals with clogged arteries may have to undergo dangerous and invasive surgeries to undo the damage from years of poor diet and genetics

Indirectly, it may also rub-off on manufacturers of low cholesterol milks in the dairy industry. To avoid controversies that often trail consumption of milk by adults, not a few experts have recommended low cholesterol milk for them. To this end, many dairy food manufacturers have therefore up the ante in the production of low cholesterol milk in the interest of consumers that are willing to avoid cholesterol.

Of all the nutrients in the food supply, fat and cholesterol probably receive the most attention from health professionals and the public alike. Dietary recommendations from health experts advise lowering the total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol in consumers’ diets. The scientific evidence is clear that a high-fat diet relates to chronic health problems such as heart disease, some types of cancer, diabetes and obesity.
Meanwhile, consumption of low fat dairy products has been linked to a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In fact, studies have found that each extra portion of low fat dairy consumed each day is associated with increasingly lower risk.

Experts’ view

A Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at the Ekiti State University, Ado Ekiti, Dr. Akeem Apempe has described the initiative as a good step towards addressing issues related to heart health.

According to Apempe: By championing advocacy on healthy heart habits among consumers as part of their New Year resolutions, the brand and its owners have thus demonstrated that they are responsible. Health issues require proper understanding and from the popular adage that ‘health is wealth’, it is obvious that having good health is important to good living. A careless consumption habit can lead to sickness or even untimely death.

Many experts have also urged organisations in the consumer health industry to pay proper attention to consumer behaviour and understand their motivations, needs, belief systems and other values they hold dear, which could enhance loyalty.

A leading voice in consumer rights protection advocacy in the country, Sola Salako said: “In-depth customer knowledge for the deliberate development of relevant and compelling propositions to meet identified needs is critical to enhancing consumer loyalty.
“Businesses exist to generate profit; hence continuous customer satisfaction is the key to delivering this. Therefore to deliver sustainable success, brand loyalty becomes germane. Brand loyalty cannot happen without a thorough understanding of the consumer and a deliberate decision to satisfy and exceed the customer’s expectations via both core and surprise value,” she stated.