Marketer of the Year – Mira MilichIndustry Best Practice
Marketer of the Year is open to any individual or team who through a marketing campaign has shown excellence in the marketing of apples and pears in Australia.
Mira Milich can pinpoint the exact moment she knew that marketing fresh fruit had to go way beyond pictures of pretty fruit.
“I was on my way to do a photo shoot in an orchard in October 2018 and there was a huge super cell hailstorm,” she said. “The grower called and said look we’ve just been hit, three quarters of the crop is gone. It was that emotional. They were only a week into their harvest.
“I said to Tony (Carter, of Montague Qld Wholesaler, Mira’s fiancée) Australia needs to see this. Why not show Australia the real challenges, the trees they’ve nurtured to this point just for mother nature to take that away.”
The heart-felt grower interview Mira shared on her Divine Fruits social media still ranks in her three highest-viewed posts by her 5600+ followers (Instagram and Facebook), and the response was immediate from both national media and consumers.
“All these comments started coming through: ‘What can we do to help?’ ‘Can we pick the fruit? we’d like to buy it’.”
It is Mira’s passion for not just marketing fresh fruit, but bringing growers, buyers and consumers together to build understanding, loyalty – and sales – that have made her marketing so powerful and earned her the 2020 Marketer of the Year award.
“I’m a connector,” she says simply.
Mira has been connecting growers with customers from her base on Queensland’s Gold Coast since 2016 when she saw a gap between what the buyers saw in the Rocklea market and what she saw visiting growers with Tony.
As well as stonefruit and apple growers in Queensland’s Granite Belt, she now represents stonefruit growers as far south as Victoria’s Goulburn Valley.
“There was all this beautiful fresh product on the market floor but we didn’t really see any of the farmers’ faces behind the product, and there was no education around it,” she said.
“I felt really strongly that it was time to tell the story and help Australia learn more about the growing regions and the fruit that they take into their home, not only to tell growers’ story but also to educate the consumer about choosing the fruit.”
Trust and loyalty
With the blessing of Montague Qld and former experience in marketing and events she approached growers. Posters of growers with their families were backed up with meet-and-greet seasonal launches on the market floor where buyers from green grocers, convenience stores, gourmet providores and hotel and restaurant suppliers could meet growers and learn about the fruit.
“There are great benefits in seeing the face behind ‘the brand’ and talking to them one-to-one,” Mira said. “It builds a relationship, builds a trust. Farmers are faced with all sorts of challenges with mother nature and there will be times when the buyers might say ‘I bought some apples it was maybe a little marked and can you tell me why’ – it’s an educational opportunity learning about why it is the way it is in terms of flavour, size, brix levels.”
Building relationships has also built sales, Mira says, as buyers familiar with the grower and happy with the fruit have consistently bought it themselves and told others about it.
The beautiful photos and ‘behind-the-scenes’ videos of growers and their families, and what’s going on in the orchard season by season shared with Divine Fruits’ growing online following has also been changing perceptions and buying habits among consumers.
“To see growers in their orchards, their kids walking through eating fruit, it’s very relatable,” Mira said. “People don’t just comment on the post, they take the time to email and say they saw it and went and bought the fruit and please could I pass on to the growers they were the best apples they’ve ever eaten.”
Recipes have been added recently in response to requests and when Mira is not in the wholesale market introducing buyers to growers, she might be organising meet-the-grower events, International Women’s Day events or orchard weekend experiences.
“During the campaigns, it’s 10-hour days,” she said. “But for me it’s really exciting, every year is different.”
Her hope for the award is that it will show how important it is for grower stories to be told so the consumers can learn more about the process of growing fruit and the people who do it.
“It is essential we share how our food is grower-delivered, the beautiful places it comes from and how much time and effort producers invest, so that people can value and appreciate the food they put on their table. It’s good to share, as it is the reality.”