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February 5, 2021

Maine lobster promotion group reports good results from marketing pivot

File photo / Laurie Schreiber Maine’s lobster industry could be benefiting from the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative’s pivot to focus on home cooks and grocery store sales in 2020.

After a quick marketing pivot to focus on home cooks and grocery store sales in 2020, the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative reported a surge in media impressions and website traffic compared with 2019. 

“As soon as the impact of the pandemic became apparent last spring, the collaborative quickly pivoted to make sure that every marketing dollar was used to address the strongest business opportunities available for the industry,” the organization’s executive director, Marianne LaCroix, wrote in an industry letter posted online this week. “Given the challenges facing the food service industry, we shifted our focus from restaurants and distributors to grocery stores and home cooks.”

In the past, the collaborative has focused its promotional campaigns on media partnerships and on chefs, since restaurants are typically where lobster is consumed.

Courtesy / Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative
Marianne LaCroix

Grocery promotion

The collaborative ran its first-ever test promotional program with a grocery chain — Big Y Foods Inc., headquartered in Springfield, Mass. — featuring advertising and social media posts through the grocery’s marketing channels. The family-owned chain owns about 75 stores, mostly in Connecticut and Massachusetts. 

The campaign resulted in a 79% increase in store sales of lobster during the one-month promotional period. 

“They are enthusiastic about selling and promoting Maine lobster exclusively, so they were a valuable partner for our test program,” LaCroix said.

“Moving forward, we are working with our local Maine lobster dealers to identify grocery chain customers that might be interested in running a Maine Lobster promotion. Once the dealers identify a potential partner, we work together with the dealer and the grocery chain to build a promotional program.”

Digital marketing

Social media and digital advertising were key tools in 2020.

“We enlisted the help of food-focused social media influencers to develop easy-to-prepare recipes and how-to videos, ultimately reaching 16 million people on social media channels during a time when more consumers than ever were preparing meals at home and turning to social media for inspiration,” she said. 

The collaborative developed a new “Home Cooks” section on its website to include preparation tips. To drive home cooks to the page, the group ran digital advertising on social media sites like Pinterest. 

“According to a Nielsen survey, over 580,000 people were more likely to buy Maine lobster as a result of seeing our digital ads,” she said.

Supply chain

The collaborative continued to market to key members of the supply chain by educating and supporting wholesale buyers with three webinars hosted by Seafood Source, an online business tool for seafood professionals. The sessions resulted in 1,000 registrants, 450 new contacts and 140 qualified sales leads that were shared with dealers. 

Also developed and distributed was a “Maine Lobster Buyers Guide” to educate wholesale buyers.

Valentine promotion

Just coming in this week, and not included in the 2020 round-up, were the marketing results of a “Maine Lobster Tail Bouquet” promotion designed to build off Valentine’s Day. 

“Media went wild for the idea, and it was shared by NBC with all their local affiliates, as well as getting picked up by consumer publications like Food & Wine, All Recipes, Delish and many more,” LaCroix said. “The best part is that most of the coverage includes our key messages that Maine lobster is sweet and sustainable, and that eating Maine lobster supports hardworking fishermen and small businesses in Maine.”

By the numbers

Among the metrics:

• The collaborative generated a 29% year-over-year increase in earned media impressions, reaching 1.68 billion. Earned media consists of content and conversation around a brand or product that was created by somebody else and published somewhere other than the brand or product’s owned channels, according to

• The collaborative’s website,, saw a 40% increase in visits, reaching 521,000. 

• Visits jumped 17% to wholesale dealer websites, which resulted in a 99% increase of clicks on their listings.

• Visits jumped 291% to consumer dealer websites, which resulted in a 478% increase of clicks on their listings.

• New retail partnerships resulted in a 79% increase in sales.

To reach grocers and home cooks, the collaborative used public relations outreach to raise awareness of Maine lobster and worked with journalists to place stories that focused on “ease of procuring and preparing lobster at home,” LaCroix wrote.

The result was 141 positive stories that reached 1.6 billion people in publications like Thrillist, NESN’s Dining Playbook and Real Simple.  

To see the full report, click here.

What's to come

Among its programs this year, the collaborative plans to:

• Expand its grocery store promotional program to include several chains. 

• Launch a product innovation project designed to find new uses for underutilized parts of the lobster, such as mince, with the goal of increasing product value and interest among product developers. 

• Research the consumer market and how to influence its purchasing behavior. 

To view the 2021 plan, click here.

The collaborative will host an informational session via Zoom on Feb. 18 from 6-7 p.m. to share more about its plans and answer questions. Click here to register.

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