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Winning the Battle of the Brands without the Bigger Budget

Everyone knows Cuties Clementines. Well, almost everyone. Cuties, as a brand, has an incredibly high 98% brand awareness. What does this mean? When people think sweet, easy to peel n’ eat clementines, they think Cuties. That’s a pretty good situation to be in as a brand. However, going into this season Cuties had an uphill battle to climb; their direct competition not only had a much larger marketing budget, they also had more product. What do you do in this situation? AMA-KC recently hosted an event with the Cuties marketing team to discuss how they built a marketing plan when they had the same value proposition but were out budgeted by the competition.

The Cuties marketing team had a simple, but effective approach to their marketing efforts this season:

  • Find passionate brand advocates – Whether creating a marketing plan for a single event or revisiting a full marketing strategy, knowing WHO should be reached is a key step. This identification should happen early in the process. Understanding the WHO allowed the Cuties team to craft a strategy to talk to them in the right way, in the right place(s), and the right time(s) to most successfully deliver the message. Cuties’ key consumer is “Jennifer,” a Millennial mom with active kids. There are over 11M Jennifers in Cuties’ key selling regions.
  • Make Emotional Connections – Citrus has long been viewed as a commodity, a clementine is a clementine, but recently produce brands have been taking steps to define themselves. Cuties does this by making emotional connections with their “Jennifers.” They created fun ways for consumer to interact with the brand beyond the act of eating a Cutie. The biggest of these efforts was the “Cutie Curl” promotion, which asked consumers to upload photos of their kids’ Cutie peel removed in one piece. Why photos? Millennial Moms, Jennifers, love to share photos to their social media channels.
  • Spend Smart – As mentioned Cuties’ competitor not only has the more marketing budget, they have the exact same product AND more of it. How does one compete in this David vs. Goliath situation? Spend Smart. Don’t try to reach every customer in every place. Figure out the right customers and the right places to approach them; invest there. Cuties chose PBS Kids website, a dedicated Pandora channel, and their Cutie Curl promotion website. By sticking to a few places where they would find their Jennifers Cuties was able to achieve 65M web impressions and 28 “months” of Pandora listening in only 3 months.
  • Emote, don’t promote – It’s easy to slip into promotion mode when thinking about a marketing plan. But as Jason reminded us, the right to promote must be earned. Until then spend time crafting a story to create emotional connections with customers. Competing on price alone does not win loyal customers, or create passionate brand advocates. Cuties enhanced the “Cutie Curl” contest by further engaging moms with recipes, crafts, and activities for their Cutie peels. While the Cutie Curl contest was wildly successful and they had additional content to engage their Jennifers beyond the single promotion, one of their lessons learned was to be less ‘promotional’ going into next season.

Cuties’ conundrum is one frequently faced by independent retailers, a competitor with more money and more product. The Cuties approach can be easily adapted not only for crafting individual promotions but also a broad marketing strategy. When brands plan well and spend smart to reach the right customers, in the right place, with the right message they win loyal, passionate brand advocates.

Why do I work at AWG? “I chose to work at AWG because I want other people to love shopping local grocers as much as I do.” -Andrea