Protein-based snacks carry a lot of water in the market these days. Millennials love 'em. Food bloggers can't get enough of them. From Greek yogurt, to energy bars, jerky and nut-based snack mixes, little bites of protein are hot, hot, hot.
So what's the best way to market them? Tweak the packaging design? Coupons? In-store placement buys? Those methods can all help, but given protein snacks' popularity with young adults and teens, digital engagement is probably your best strategy.
How Millennials have changed food marketing forever.
Ads don't work. You can't use them to reach Millennial audiences.
Wait, what? That doesn't make sense, right? How do you reach audiences without advertising? And how do you advertise without advertisements?
The answer, according to Millennial marketing wonks, is to get away from the traditional feel of ads. Young adults quite simply don't trust them. They want authenticity.
Of course, we know that "authenticity" is a relative construct. What Millennials are really saying, when they demand authentic, is "no lying." You're talking to a digital-savvy generation here. You think you can make a dubious nutrition or health benefit claim without it being dissected by thousands of curious Googlers? There's a reason why Snopes is a popular site.
In marketing your protein-based snacks, you should create content that sticks to relevant, value-adding, true claims. You should make your content thought-provoking, fun and, above all, short. Millennials have increasingly shorter attention spans.
We've talked before on this blog about the genius of short film tie-ins with well-run social media campaigns. But what about visual-based, ephemeral marketing, on moment-to-moment media like Snapchat?
The genius of CLIF Bar's #MeetTheMoment.
How do you blend short, attention-grabbing and authentic in a social media campaign? CLIF Bar found a way. The energy bar brand launched its seven-month-long, crowdsourced "Meet the Moment" campaign over Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat in 2014.
CLIF prompted followers of its outreach accounts to post pictures of their adventures exploring beautiful outdoor spaces — targeting CLIF's core audience high-energy, nature-loving young adults — with the hashtag "MeetTheMoment."
To encourage participation and build its Millennial cred, the brand chose seven non-profit partners — International Mountain Biking Association, American White Water, Leave No Trace, Surfrider Foundation, Access Fund, WinterWildlands Alliance and Protect Our Winters (one for each month of the campaign) — and pledged to donate $1 per #MeetTheMoment post to those organizations during the months each one was featured.
Here's why it's genius: CLIF Bars' expenditures are essentially only the staff to monitor and curate posts and the dollar-per-engagement cost (which it then promptly wrote off). At the same time, it showed consumers that it wants to make a difference. CLIF Bars isn't just marketing to the outdoor set — it actively supports environmental causes. The campaign yielded high visibility, low net cost and much goodwill.
Best of all, it encouraged sharing between social media peers. And, as recent studies have shown, there is very little that is more influential on Millennial consumers than the recommendations and opinions of their peers.
Indeed, young consumers report that they trust user-generated content that they view over social media 50 percent more than other forms of media. They also find user-generated content 35 percent more memorable than brand-produced content.
Will your digital engagement effort raise the (CLIF) bar?
If you're marketing protein bites and protein-based snacks, CLIF certainly set a high standard for you. Its #MeetTheMoment campaign generated approximately $60,000 for non-profit partners. Think about that: That's 60,000 engagements — a colossal return for mere a fraction of a traditional large campaign spend.
Your digital engagement effort — if well-run, well-monitored and thoughtfully crafted — could mean the difference between your brand realizing food marketing success, or becoming a snack aisle also-ran.