Danone, Meijer Leverage Plant-Based Interest

Cyndi Loza
Managing Editor, Member Content, P2PI
Cyndi Loza profile picture

Danone North America and Meijer teamed for a program highlighting plant-based foods during the meat-fatigue-inducing summer months.   

July through August, the "Delicious Plant-Based Goodness" campaign spotlighted Danone North America's Vega, Silk and So Delicious Dairy Free plant-based SKUs including beverages, frozen desserts and yogurt, and Earthbound Farm salad greens. The marketing plan encompassed:

  • a “Buy $10 Save $3” deal on Silk, So Delicious Dairy Free and Vega SKUs valid July 8-15, followed by a month of mPerks coupons continuing to drive engagement with the brands.
  • fifteen influences — including Say Not Sweet Anne and The Girl in the Red Shoes — who shared creative content to highlight their shopping trip and plugged inspirational plant-based recipes.
  • a dedicated microsite containing custom recipes from Kelly Pfeiffer of Nosh and Nourish and a banner ad plugging the mPerks coupons. 
  • floor clings, freezer clings and violators in stores. 
  • a circular feature spotlighting Silk, Earthbound, Soy Delicious Dairy Free and Vega SKUs as well as other plant-based products from brand including Procter & Gamble's Tide and Kellogg Co.'s MorningStar Farms.

The campaign also entailed a "market takeover" in Grand Rapids, MI, where the retailer is headquartered, with digital outdoor billboards and in-store sampling at three local stores, Erin Anderson, senior manager of shopper marketing – west, Danone North America, told P2PI. Each Silk, So Delicious Dairy Free, Vega, and Earthbound Farm purchase made at the Grand Rapids stores from July 8-15 triggered a donation to Urban Roots, a local community farm, market, and education center. Urban Roots also assisted in an in-store salad workshop.

"There have been many new innovations expanding plant-based beyond the milk aisle into alternatives to yogurt, frozen dessert, powders and whipped toppings," said Anderson, adding that buying patterns are also shifting as shoppers look to define "health and wellness" for their household and demand for cleaner label and plant-based and organic product grows. "Many shoppers know about plant-based beverages, but might not be aware that other items exist in the categories they currently shop in. Our challenge was to inspire our core shopper to try other items outside of plant-based beverages and build their shopping basket with a variety of new plant-based items."

The program targeted Meijer shoppers, who were “open to health and wellness items and interested in trying new things,” Anderson said. “From our research, we knew that the Meijer shopper was looking for education and inspiration in their dairy aisle shopping trip. We have also seen strong plant-based growth across a variety of categories including yogurt alternatives, frozen desserts and frozen meals — all supporting the plant-based lifestyle at Meijer.”

Planting the Seed for the Program

As senior marketing specialist, vendor partnerships, at Meijer, Crystal Stowe leverages vendor activations to drive total store and category growth for the mass merchant. Noting the trends of "flexitarian" and "meatless Mondays," Stowe believed some shoppers experienced a bit of meat fatigue the week after July 4, so she decided to build a story spotlighting the vast assortment of plant-based products at Meijer. "The ‘seed’ had been planted, so you can say, and I started reaching out to key vendors with products to support the story," Stowe told P2PI. 

Danone North America had the resources and product portfolio to support the story in a truly authentic way, she said. The manufacturer also had an agreement to run a program with Meijer, but there were no set plans on what it would be so Stowe was free to create something from scratch. "I supported that ask for programming with one of my available [circular] ad pages that had yet to be planned, so it worked out well for us both," said Stowe, who added this is the first time the retailer has showcased an assortment of plant-based items together.

Ultimately, the campaign drove both brand and category growth, highlighting a developing consumer trend with the plant-based diet, Anderson said. "Not only did we see strong sales lift during the promotion, but we drove sales for the entire duration of the program," said Anderson, adding Meijer also saw increased trips during the promotional period. "By bringing together the iconic plant-based brands Silk, So Delicious Dairy Free, Vega and Earthbound Farm, we were able to create a solution for the shopper encouraging her to try new items, driving sales for the brands and the retailer."

NOTE: For a look at more images from this program and Meijer, visit Path to Purchase Institute members have access to more than 3,400 images and 352 articles of marketing and merchandising activity at Meijer, along with a full Retailer Profile outlining the chain’s operations and strategies.