Australian Functional Ingredients – by Vic Cherikoff

From the Land of Free Enterprise to CSIRO research

This blog started as a simply marketing strategy but ended up meandering from an initiative instigated by a US bank, to ideas of creatingincome streams through affiliate marketing and finally onto recent reearch done by CSIRO and Charles Sturt Uni on the antioxidant value of Australian fruits. I hope you find this of interest…

I read all sorts of marketing newsletters in my search for strategies in building my own brand, particluarly in the USA and this blog from The New York Times (you’ll have to register but there’s no charge and it’s well worth it) caught my interest.

For a start, our Australian banks could learn a lot from the story as they fall well short of everyone’s expectation in customer service and community spirit.

But in essence and to quote from the story, the Umpqua Bank, an Oregon bank famous for nontraditional marketing and customer service, has created a clever summer campaign to promote its services to small businesses: It is offering children a kit and start-up capital to set up and run a lemonade stand.

Dubbed “the lemonaire,” the campaign is aimed at children in the 96 cities in Oregon, Washington and California where Umpqua operates 144 branches. Lani Hayward, executive vice president of creative strategies for Umpqua, said 70 percent of the bank’s deposits and loans came from small and medium-size businesses.

Ray Davis, president and chief executive of Umpqua Bank, a subsidiary of Umpqua Holdings, said: “Umpqua is always looking for ways to recognize and support the entrepreneurial spirit that drives community growth. Giving kids lemonade stand supplies and start-up capital is a fun and unexpected way to express our support of small business and community.”

Mr. Davis, who joined Umpqua in 1994, has overseen the bank’s growth from $150 million in deposits to more than $7 billion today, driven in part by acquisitions. Under his leadership, Umpqua has revamped its marketing strategy, and today considers itself a retailer rather than a bank; in fact, it refers to its branches – which offer attractions like free Wi-Fi access, Umpqua-branded coffee, sewing groups, yoga classes and movie nights – as stores, and sends its employees to training sessions run by Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Resorts.

The point of the story for me is that these days, kids are highly web-savvy and a way for them to learn about business and earn (serious) pocket money could be to sign up to our affiliate program. Get the drum on it here. Even without a website it is possible to include clickable links on emails as a signature, links from accounts with YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and other community boards. Take your promotions off-line with business card with the link, use postcards or mailings, letterbox drops of leaflets of offers or recipe ideas … the ideas are endless.

Ken Evoy from Make Your Site Sell fame expounds the value of pre-selling through endorsements and recommendations, anything to get the creative juices flowing and the curiosity up. After all, we have the most interesting ingredients in food for years. How much olive oil or chili can you eat and in how many ways can your molecularly gastronomize it? Once you’ve tried olive oil and chili chewy ice cream is there anything left?

And now from studies we have fostered at Charles Sturt University and others with CSIRO, we know that nutritionally, so many of the indigenous foods of Australia are streets ahead of their cultivated equivalents. I’ll report more on these results in a coming blog but in summary, the CSIRO research corroborated the CSU work which put a whole range of Australian fruits into the same super fruit status as enjoyed by the Kakadu plum since my work with it in the 1980s.

So we know that Australian ingredients are delicious and easy to use. They are extremely good for you and probably more like a quality nutritional supplement as well as great food. Why not try them? Get some Wattleseed or Wattleseed extract, Lemon myrtle sprinkle or Forest anise or head over to Gourmet Sleuth for a handy reference to my ingredient range (You’ll find the same list here).

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Vic Cherikoff