Unilever's SmartyPants Vitamins tapped Tarrytown, NY-based Ripple Street to run a pandemic-friendly, digital sampling program aimed at driving trial and purchase of SmartyPants vitamins at Walmart.
Known for its gummy vitamins for children and adults, SmartyPants enlisted the in-home consumer-engagement company earlier this year to distribute 1,000 product pack to shoppers comprising:
- five two-gummy samples of SmartyPants women's multivitamins each in custom packaging redeemable for $2 off a SmartyPants purchase at Walmart,
- one informational Walmart- and SmartyPants-branded flyer, positioning the brand as made with premium nutrients, and free of genetically modified organisms, synthetic colors, artificial flavors and gluten, and
- instructions to guide them through an experiential shopper journey.
For the program, SmartyPants leveraged Ripple Street's "Chatterbox" product sampling solution, which allows brands to send shoppers products ("Chat Packs") to try, review and share their experiences on social media. About 3,750 consumers — primarily women aged 25-54 who are interested in health and wellness products — applied via ripplestreet.com to receive a Chat Pack during the application process Jan. 14 through Feb. 4. To apply, shoppers were instructed to sign up for emails from the brand, visit their local Walmart store and take a "shelfie" with SmartyPants women’s multivitamins, and share brand content on social media. The 1,000 most engaged and "socially savvy" participants, according to a Ripple Street representative, received a SmartyPants Chat Pack along with instructions to share their samples and coupons with friends and family, write product reviews and share their experience via social media. The product trial phase ended on March 3.
The program with Ripple Street was part of a larger, 360-degree "New Year, New You" shopper program at Walmart that aimed to drive awareness and sales of SmartyPants SKUs at the mass merchant. The New Year, New You campaign included paid search on walmart.com, on- and off-platform targeted digital media, influencer and paid social activity, savings incentives and sampling efforts. The goal with the Ripple Street program was to increase social media reach and impressions, generate trials and reviews, and increase purchase intent at Walmart.
Activating Ripple Street's Chatterbox solution made sense for SmartyPants as sampling is an integral part of the brand's shopper marketing strategy to drive trial and build brand awareness, Amy Avellar, senior manager, shopper marketing at SmartyPants Vitamins, told the Path to Purchase Institute. "We always put an emphasis on trial-driving tactics and measures because we are confident in our product and know that once you try it, you'll be a repeat customer," Avellar says.
Considering the lower store foot traffic driven by the COVID-19 pandemic at the time, Avellar said finding a digital platform that could deliver samples and drive engagement was a win for SmartyPants. Besides generating trial, Avellar said the brand also benefited from “these other kind of byproducts of the campaign to help drive awareness through the social content that's garnered as well as help improve dot-com performance with the reviews that we were also able to capture from the campaign."
The program with Ripple Street proved successful, said Avellar, adding it helped her hit all her important marketing KPIs she put her "foot to the fire" on. The activation generated more than 5,000 trials, 450+ authentic product reviews, 11,000+ posts and comments from participants on social media, and increased purchase intent for SmartyPants items at Walmart by 76%.