California Walnuts’ First-Ever National Snacking Retail Campaign Drives Success with Awareness and Sales

Retailers were pleased with walnut snacking campaign results (photo courtesy CWMB.)

In an ongoing effort to change the way consumers think about walnuts, the California Walnut Board conducted its largest snacking campaign in May through August to encourage additional consumption of walnuts through snacking. The campaign found success with both consumer media coverage and a first-ever snacking-focused in-store retail program in July, resulting in strong year-over-year sales growth of walnuts for participating retailers. In online content, TV segments, advertising and promotions, consumers saw messaging about “Raising Your Nutrition IQ with California Walnuts” showing nutritious and tasty snack ideas, which drove awareness and product sales.

The decision to run a campaign focused solely on snacking came directly from market research that showed continued growth in snacking as the top use of walnuts. California Walnuts also conducted a survey to assess current snacking trends going into the campaign period. Among other findings, the survey concluded that more Americans are looking to eat healthier snacks than last year, and 22% of snackers (approximately 53 million people) are looking for snacks that promote cognitive health.

“The Board’s market research provided valuable insights to inform development of a strategic campaign to reach consumers with a new message to drive increased walnut consumption during a time of year when walnuts are not typically top-of-mind,” said Jennifer Olmstead, senior director of U.S. marketing and communications for the California Walnut Board. “We presented the opportunity to retailers and were pleased with the interest for this inaugural campaign.”

Twenty-six retailers operating 7,400 stores participated in the campaign, displaying walnuts and promotional signage. In select retailers, California Walnuts paired with the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council or Bard Valley Natural Delights Dates for in-store promotions and recipe highlights.

The snacking campaign also included regional TV station segments and Facebook Live recipe demonstrations hosted by the supermarket dietitians. Throughout the summer, media outreach led to 460 news articles and garnered 1.6 billion potential views, touting walnuts as a nutritious snack option and shared recipe ideas, including placements in major consumer outlets like Men’s Health, Eat This, Not That! and Real Simple.

“The earned media, nutrition spokespeople, influencer partnerships and national retail program worked together to build excitement across the country around purchasing walnuts,” shared Olmstead.

Retailers who executed well at the store level were extremely pleased with the results, especially when compared to the pandemic-fueled walnut sales during the summer of 2020. Nielsen data collected from a portion of the retailers showed that volume gains attributed to this program were above 170% for two of the retailers and no less than 44% from the rest of the group.

Olmstead added California Walnuts hopes to continue to build on the campaign success, especially as consumer demand for plant-forward and nutritious eating choices continues to rise.