As fall approaches, pecans are typically top of mind, particularly when it comes to pie and the holiday season. However, as the American Pecan Council works to raise demand for pecans nationwide, we know a critical piece of our efforts is finding creative, engaging, and research-driven ways to reach our target audience outside of harvest and the holidays.
We have previously shared with you our overarching campaign to harness the year-round superfood power of American Pecans. The Super-fy marketing campaign leverages the idea that pecans’ powerful nutrition makes them the perfect addition to any snack or meal. From January through March, Super-fy drove interest and engagement with our target audience, and was fueled by work with blogger partners, media relations, and social media.
While the Super-fy campaign concept highlights the nutrition of pecans to our target audience, we also wanted to showcase pecans’ versatility. To take our message a step further, we introduced Superweeks in April. An evolution of Super-fy, this campaign was a meal-planning concept designed to show that pecans are a versatile ingredient, perfect for creating unique and delicious recipe combinations. Pecans can be incorporated into meals all week long and are worthy of a spot on weekly family shopping lists.
The Research Behind Superweeks
Before we launched Superweeks—or embark on any marketing campaign—we began with an understanding of our audience’s motivations and tailoring a program to appeal to their interests. So, who is our target audience, and what do they care about most?
While we want everyone to become a pecan lover, we are focused on Generation X and Y mothers, who hold purchase-decision power for meals and groceries in their households. Our research uncovered that these mothers are not only health conscious but are the most likely to look for new ways to incorporate nutrients into meals for their families.
We combined this insight with our goal of increased awareness. Because our initial consumer research informed us that many Americans think of pecans as a baking ingredient, instead of a nut, our programs continue to strive for greater awareness of pecans’ versatility.
We also learned that two out of three moms plan their weekly meals in advance, especially those with young children at home. In fact, according to Mintel consumer research, the most stressful time of the day for parents is dinnertime—and 82 percent of working moms try to combat this with advanced meal planning.
All of these factors—purchasing power, interest in trying new and healthy things, and a tendency to pre-plan their ingredient purchases—laid the foundation for a campaign that showcases The Original Supernut as a healthy, hardworking ingredient. And what better time to introduce the idea of cooking with pecans than when our target audience is planning their week? In order to prove pecans deserve a spot in her regular rotation, we needed to bring our audience content in the context of her meal-planning routine.
Developing our Themes
We knew we wanted to create a variety of meal plans that appealed to all kinds of needs and interests, while still keeping all options family friendly and recipes easy to understand. Each of the meal plan themes had extensive research behind them to ensure they fit a lifestyle interest or dietary need of our target audience.
Consumer research helps guide this process, and ensures that the content we are creating is the best fit for who we are trying to reach. For example, according to Mintel consumer research, mothers in Generation X and Y seek meals that may accommodate certain dietary restrictions, such as gluten intolerance. Therefore, several of our meal plans feature a variety of recipes that are all gluten free, showcasing the pecan’s versatility as a delicious option for all.
Research also showed that moms are looking for options that will fuel their families throughout the day, but we know that many consumers just think of pecans as a baking ingredient, not superfood fuel. So, we created our energy-themed plans, chock-full of on-the-go options and quick dinners that fight sugar slumps and afternoon grogginess. And for the 53 percent of consumers that say they don’t have the energy to think about cooking, we have plans that take thirty minutes or less to prepare!
We also continue to cater to the broader, up-and-coming consumer trends. Plant-based eating has grown nearly 600 percent in the last several years, and is continuing to grow—and as a source of plant protein, pecans have a powerful role to play. Our plant-based plans showcase pecans in an entirely new light as a staple source of plant protein for kids and parents alike.
Together, each individual plan creates a suite of options for all kinds of health and lifestyle priorities.
Creating and sharing these plans began with a foundation of strong blogger partnerships to help develop new recipes and meal plans. To ensure that this new content would resonate with our target audience, we chose to work with bloggers who are actually a part of our target audience.
Once recipes and meal plans were created, we promoted our campaign through a variety of tactics and channels. From broadcast TV cooking demonstrations with Registered Dietitians (RDs), to social media, to search engine advertising, we targeted our efforts to reach our audience every step of the way.
Since this campaign focuses heavily on planning for a shopping trip, we deployed some new tactics to reach our consumers right at their point of purchase by working with resources most directly tied to grocery stores and the shopping experience. What better time than to introduce the idea of cooking with pecans than when our target audience is planning their week of meals?
One such way was through partnerships with retail dietitians, which are RDs that work in grocery stores nationwide. These RDs help educate shoppers on nutritious products that they should consider when shopping for themselves and their families.
To arm these influencers with the information and educational materials they need, we sent them our American Pecans Retail Dietitian Toolkit. This informational packet includes information about pecans’ nutritional profile as well as turnkey activations that RDs are able to active in-store, engage shoppers and elevate total store sales. From recipe inspiration, and ideas on how to take advantage of special events and holidays like National Nutrition Month in March and of course, National Pecan Month in April, the toolkit provides 12 months of activation ideas, store and media messages, examples of social media posts, and newsletter and blog inspiration.
American Pecans expanded the program with a themed e-blast newsletter in May and June through the Retail Dietitian Business Alliance, a key resource for more than 2,200 retail RDs nationwide. Within the e-blasts, we provided an opt-in link for RDs who would like to receive the physical toolkit, alongside nutrition handouts with themed Superweeks 5-recipe meal plans that they can distribute to consumers in-store, helping to keep pecans top of mind while they’re grocery shopping and driving purchase.
We also hit the grocery store shelves to help spread the word. American Pecans are featured in the summer issue of Kroger’s in-store magazine, Live Naturally, sharing the heart-smart benefits of pecans alongside a recipe for Pecan-Crusted Salmon. In a previous Kroger survey, 93 percent of readers say they have been inspired to try new products based on content they saw in the magazine.
These are just a couple examples of the widespread activation approach we have taken to make Superweeks come alive for our target audience and beyond. Each of these initiatives is tailored to appeal to our target audience both while she is gaining initial inspiration for her weekly meal plan, and while she is actually shopping and nearing the point of purchase. In doing so, we are ensuring that pecans are top of mind across the entire consumer journey.
Want to get Involved with Superweeks?
As we continue to build and develop our marketing work, we will always ensure that the resources we are creating are designed for the pecan industry, and available for growers and shellers to harness for your own business growth.
The Digital Toolkit on AmericanPecan.com houses resources available to you 24/7. Within the specific Superweeks page (password: pecans18), you can find consumer-facing resources such as heart-smart shopping lists, printable recipe cards, and even a “How to Choose and Store Pecans” handout to help your customers while they’re in the store.
Subscribe to the American Pecan Council newsletter, “In A Nutshell,” to stay up-to-date on the latest marketing activity from American Pecans and how you can get involved. Interested in better understanding our progress? Our monthly Marketing Highlights report is available through the newsletter and also for download through the “Your Dollars at Work” section of the Digital Toolkit.
As we continue to grow and develop our marketing work, your feedback is very important to us—we want to know what you think! Whether you have questions about Superweeks, or you’re in the pecan industry and want to know how to best use the brand for your business, we’re here to help. Reach us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via phone at (817) 916-0020.
All photos are courtesy of the American Pecan Council.