Last week I enjoyed hearing from Erik Drake, EVP of Stoneyfield Farm Yogurt who was a guest speaker at the Ad Club’s CMO Breakfast series. Stoneyfield is the leader in organic yogurt in addition to being a leader in the new model for consumer packaged goods customer engagement. They have chosen to move beyond the traditional model of one-way ads based on features and benefits to a true content-based customer outreach model.
For their business it makes perfect sense for several reasons. Being organic costs more, so margins are tighter and Stoneyfield is higher priced in the supermarket. Because of the finances they can’t allocate a large budget for advertising to reach a relatively small target of consumer who prefers organics to mass-market brands such as Yoplait and Dannon (both owned by large global corporations).
Additionally, they have an interesting and in-depth story to tell about their brand that is not done justice in a 30 second spot or print ad. It is more important for Stoneyfield to be in a relationship and dialogue with customers to keep them loyal and turn them into advocates. They were one of the first to understand that in the social media era, brand experiences are interactive and shared. Organics are as much as a lifestyle brand as it is a product.
Their goal is to engage, educate and convert with an authentic message about their values regarding health, wellness and being a good steward of the planet. They rely on earned and owned media with smart PR and social strategies. Stoneyfield focuses on storytelling and creating emotional bonds. Much of their sales come from a strong core of customers, so creating loyalty is paramount.
The web site is packed with content in the forms of articles, blogs and videos. Each tells a different story for consumers – Why Organic, Farm to Table, Health Benefits, Recipes and a fun feature – Have a Cow. This program allows customers to get up close and personal with the cows being raised to produce organic milk. The story continues to social media where they have 187K Facebook fans and 22K Twitter followers.
These new models for interactive customer engagement will soon become the norm as content-based programs begin to cut into mass advertising spending. Today’s consumer wants to be part of the brand and conversation and not sold.