Filippo Berio Drives In-Store Purchases During Pandemic

a close up of a bottle

Filippo Berio USA had been planning a media campaign for April 2020, but it had to change plans when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The company pushed the effort back to July to let the initial period of uncertainty and panic buying calm down. But while so many brands were focused on capitalizing on the surge in e-commerce, Filippo Berio wanted to drive shoppers to stores.

“At the time the campaign would be running, shipping carriers were overwhelmed and some retailers’ online ordering systems had kinks to be worked out,” Filippo Berio marketing manager Meghan Boyd says. “Some retailer sites had no appointments for pickup or delivery for months out, so consumers had to go in-store. Some consumers were taking this omnichannel approach because if there was an out-of-stock at the local-store level, they might be going online to find it elsewhere and, vice versa, still requiring that trip to the store. Finally, that trip to the grocery store for many people might have been their only time in the week to escape their homes due to lockdowns or other COVID restrictions. It became a lifeline to the outside world.”

Working with Norwalk, Connecticut-based agencies Media Horizons and Colangelo as well as Vericast’s Valassis, Filippo Berio launched a heavily researched campaign to target the Midwest and Southeast regions, where shoppers were very aware of the olive oil category but weren’t buying the brand. A second flight of the campaign, which kicked off in October, added the Northeast, where the brand wanted to defend its strong position.

“We found through some internal research that the brand is underdeveloped,” Boyd says. “Our brand is very tied to the Italian ‘nonnas,’ and we love that, but we need to plan for the health of the brand.”

The campaign used Valassis’ Illumis intelligence platform to target 25- to 44-year-old shoppers through a mix of digital display, social media and connected TV advertising that spotlighted the brand’s extra virgin olive oil. Consumers were targeted when activity like recipe lookups indicated they were in a buying mindset. Dynamic creative optimization meant that the streaming TV spots were customized to show the consumer the nearest store where they could buy the brand. That function was based on Valassis’ dynamic radius trade area, which measures how far shoppers in an area are typically willing to travel, something that varies strongly across city centers and suburban markets.

Valassis set up impact studies using POS data from key retailers to test where the digital media drove sales. The effort resulted in a 6% sales lift on the featured product at the store level during both flights with a 3% brand halo lift in the first flight and 5.5% lift in the second. The gains were especially strong at Publix, where the extra virgin olive oil saw a 46% sales lift in the first flight and a 10.1% increase in the second. Most of the buyers there were ages 35-44.

“I think we learned a lot about consumer mindset,” says Boyd. “At the time, people were brand shifting as they were dealing with out-of-stocks. We saw that there was a 3.4% brand halo that included all of our other olive oil products. That was huge because we always want not just the product but the brand to gain from any campaign we run. Seeing that really showed us the power of this targeted media and how it can drive those sales.”

Kevin Leary, executive director of CPG at Valassis, says that connected TV advertising has become increasingly in demand over the past year as brands try to reach younger audiences where they are. “A lot of our agency partners who historically have been broadcast buyers [are shifting a lot of those dollars]to connected TV,” he says. “I think a big part of that is you can get so much more targeted, so much more granular in terms of the consumers whom you want to reach with your brand to truly minimize waste.”