At Meridian, generating clean energy from renewable sources and betterment of the environment is at the brand’s core. Yet the business knew it needed to connect with its agriculture customers in a more meaningful way, a way that would allow them to cut through the chatter. 

The Challenge

Meridian knew it needed to better align itself with the values of its agriculture customers. The challenge was finding a way to become one with farming and share their story in a meaningful relevant way so they could grow market share. 

They knew the brand did not have strong enough cut through in the farming sector and that those working in the industry were busy, faced with massive amounts of uncertainty around compliance costs and regulations, as well an ever-decreasing confidence in the market.  

Farmers were seeking out steady hands that they could rely on. Meridian needed to show that they were there for their customers and in it for the long haul, not just a promotion. 

The Response

They set about achieving this through three strategic pillars that underpinned their market growth strategy: 

Working with rural suppliers, across their marketing communications, they increased their effectiveness and efficiency by making offers relevant to our customers’ needs and showing that they authentically understood them.

Meridian increased its presence at key events to showcase their commitment. 

Created a new focus on a personalised service and customised offering to fit each individual. 

Meridian’s agriculture sales team also played a key part in making sure they could remain focused on understanding, supporting and offering personalised service to farmers. The sales team was brought in from the start, going on customer visits and using their industry knowledge to help identify the major pain points that Meridian’s customers had, which in turn substantiated their own research.

Once they had completed their more focused agribusiness brand strategy, they took their internal creative services team, agencies and rural partnerships through what needed to be done. 

Meridian needed these parties to fully grasp how they wanted the brand to turn out in the eyes of agribusiness, meaning their new focus was consistent across the board and the new dedication to customers was clear. 

The Result

Meridian’s approach was a success, and although that was shown through smashing budgets, more importantly it was shown in the personal connections they were able to foster with customers. 

The retail team was to deliver a certain percent Retail EBITDAF growth by 2024 – seeing the Retail contribution to the Meridian group grow by around 31 percent p.a. The success has seen the business grow agribusiness customers by a significant percentage within 11 months as well the biggest year-on-year growth since 2012. 

As far as energy providers go, Meridian also had a low churn in market. Agribusiness is no exception to this. 

However, over the last 11 months they managed to retain more customers and have their retention rate grow.

To top it all off Meridian also smashed its five-year target with Meridian Retail contributing a better than expected percent growth.

Entry details

Category: Agriculture
Company: Meridian Energy
Marketing Initiative: Becoming Part of the Fabric of Farming
Marketing Partners: BC&F Dentsu, OMD, Clarity Insight, DE Group
Judge’s Comments: “A text book marketing and sales approach to deliver exceptional sales and profit for Meridian in a high value segment.”

This article was originally published in the December/January 2020 issue of NZ Marketing. You can subscribe to the magazine, here. Or read the other winner stories, here.

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