Little Potato Company Sizzles Its Way Into U.S.
Program builds off of prior success to continue driving awareness, trial
DeForest, Wis. — To celebrate the summer grilling season and all the ways potatoes can add to meal occasions, The Little Potato Company in June launched a 12-week campaign in select supermarkets in the U.S. and Canada. Dubbed “Add a Little Sizzle to Your Summer,” the program is only the second major effort since the 22-year-old Edmonton, Alberta-based company started bringing product into U.S. markets six years ago.
According to Shelley Henschel, marketing manager, the summer BBQ/grilling campaign was aimed at consumers whom the company has identified as food socializers – “those who love to cook and eat together, are adventurous in terms of food preparation methods and appreciate the extras that make little potatoes easier to prepare, more convenient and versatile,” she says. Key decision-makers are still predominantly women, aged 25-45, she adds, but there’s a slant toward men in this age group who enjoy grilling primarily during the summer months.
The focus is on the company’s creamer potatoes overall and its oven/grill-ready trays specifically. Building on last fall’s successful “Eat Your Vegetable” campaign – the first major in-store effort – the goal of this program was to continue to drive trial and awareness of the many options available with these small, ready-to-eat potatoes.
TV, digital and social media platforms across Canada and the U.S. helped provide an engaging retail program to leverage partnerships across retailers such as Hy-Vee, Roundy’s, Weis Markets, Hannaford, Big Y Markets, Schnuck’s, Lunds & Byerlys and Crest Foods. In stores, branded P-O-P materials including bins, shippers, shelf blades, strips and danglers were available to retailers, along with recipe booklets with grilling recipes that further supported the promotion.
Henschel says a big part of the company’s message to consumers centered around convenience. The Little Potato Company’s creamer potatoes are washed and ready to eat – no peeling necessary – and whether using in a suggested recipe, preparing a favorite way or choosing one of the company’s grill-ready flavors, consumers have quick and convenient options. “As we raise awareness of our products, the intent is to get consumers to try them once,” she says, “but then also become one of the main things they pick up at the grocery store and put in their basket every time they go.”
The social media campaign (using #addalittlesizzle) was also designed to drive awareness while building on last fall’s successful campaign that garnered 41,000 sweepstakes entries in the company’s first-ever U.S. program. “It really resonated with consumers and we saw very good in-store sales during that time,” says Henschel. “We’re building on that and using it for future campaigns.”
While she declined to disclose actual figures, Henschel says that the company’s marketing budget will continue to grow with the company and its in-store efforts will be in line with that growth. “We saw such great success in stores in the New England area last fall. That was a test for us because we didn’t know how retailers would respond to the program,” she says, adding that the company’s microwave-ready trays have been an early favorite in the U.S. market, followed by its various bagged options, but the oven/grill-ready trays hadn’t been promoted as much up until this summer. “They hadn’t gotten the attention they deserve, so promoting these products at the same time and tying them together with the summer grilling season was such a great fit for the birth of this particular program.”
A sweepstakes encouraged consumers to enter weekly for a chance to win one of 10 Napoleon grills during the campaign. Boston-based Big Y, a strong supporter of the program, hosted its own “Backyard BBQ” contest on local TV stations starting in June. According to Brian Klekner, regional sales manager, contestants competed in backyard grilling challenges over a seven-week period for a chance to win, with winners earning a catered party (complete with Little Potato product as a main side dish) and a gift bag with a grill kit and coupons.
The Little Potato Company also executed two U.S. store takeovers with Big Y in the Boston area. The two-day event featured demos outside the store during which oven-grill samples were handed out to shoppers.
Klekner says Big Y saw more than a 12% lift in the month of July. The Little Potato Company will further evaluate the program’s success once final numbers are available.
Brand: The Little Potato Company
Key Insights: Food socializers love to cook and eat together, are adventurous with food preparation methods and appreciate the extras that make things easier to prepare, more convenient and versatile. While women aged 25-45 are the key decision-makers, men play a bigger role during the summer grilling months.
Activation: The “Add a Little Sizzle to Your Summer” campaign leveraged partnerships with regional supermarket operators in the U.S. and Canada. The in-store activity was supported with TV, digital and social media promotion.