Call it a genuine epiphany or just an attempt to think outside of the box, but Bob Parker says it wasn't that long ago that the National Peanut Board (NPB) realized the time had come to learn a few new tricks when it came to promoting peanuts to a new generation of consumers.
“We're living in a time when millennials are largely disconnected from farmers and agriculture, and we realized we needed to find a better way to get the message about peanuts across to these young people. Peanuts are healthy; they make easy snacks and they are a perfect food for the up and coming generation of consumers,” says Parker, President and Executive Director for NPB.
For the latest on southwest agriculture, please check out Southwest Farm Press Daily and receive the latest news right to your inbox.
The blueprint for reaching a new generation, however, required some promotional rethinking. Parker says the baby boomer generation is already well-versed in the good taste and lasting benefits of America's favorite nut. So refocusing efforts to reach a younger group of mobile consumers armed with smartphones and digital tablets was a challenge that required planning and new strategies.
“We have long used print media as our primary method of reaching consumers and we have met the challenges of marketing U.S. grown peanuts effectively down through the years. But times have changed and we knew if we wanted to reach out to this technology-driven generation we needed to burn the midnight oil and come up with new ideas,” Parker adds.
After consulting with a competitive group of marketers and agencies, a strategy to utilize social media to spread their message about the many benefits of peanuts was developed, giving birth to a new campaign directed to millennials called “The Peanut Vendor's 2016 Social Almanac.”
Last week, over the course of 24 hours, the Peanut Vendor tweeted 365 predictions for an entire year, one broadcast every two minutes over a span of about 12 hours.
“We wanted to do some real-time marketing and were hoping we could reach a large number of millennials over a short period of time. We still don't know how far or how successful the campaign will be, but over the course of a short time the Peanut Vendor attracted over 5,000 followers, far exceeding our expectations.”
Parker says the Peanut Vendor will continue to reach out to the targeted audience and will be making special appearances over the course of the year and expanding the campaign and efforts to generate interest in peanuts among young consumers.
“We don't have a large promotional budget like the almond and pistachio industries that have spent a great deal to reach younger consumers. So we had to be creative and effective in whatever we did, and so far it seems to be working well.”
HASHTAG PEANUTS HERE
With a Twitter hashtag of @PeanutsHere, good humor tweets like “And the winner is...POTATO CHIPS! Wait, I’m sorry...peanuts! The card actually says ‘PEANUTS.'” #MsUniversalSnack and “Give a man a peanut, he’ll enjoy a great snack. Teach a man to grow peanuts, he’ll become President. #VendorWisdom,” just two of the hundreds of tweets broadcast in a single day.
According to the campaign, a zealous champion who lives by the creed that everything is better with America’s favorite nut, the Peanut Vendor is the National Peanut Board’s new persona whose mission is simply to spread the passion for USA-grown peanuts by being passionate.
Parker says peanuts deliver exactly what millennials are looking for: they are whole foods, perfect any time of the day and they have a rich connection to American agriculture and farmers. He says the concept of the Peanut Vendor represents what he calls a new Social Almanac, similar to the Farmers Almanac but designed specifically for a new generation.
“It's important that each new generation remains connected to agriculture, and we hope this campaign and others like it that target young consumers will not only help them understand the goodness and enjoyment of peanuts but better understand the process of growing wholesome foods,” Parker says.
While you’ll see and hear more about the Peanut Vendor throughout the year, there are several ways you can be part of the new campaign and help the NPB reach more people. The first is follow Peanut Vendor on Twitter (on your computer or mobile device) at @PeanutsHere and spread the word. Another way is to help spread the word about the benefits of America's favorite nut.
Parker says peanuts and peanut butter are more than staples of the American pantry. More than ever before, they’re part of a healthy, active lifestyle.
"With 7 grams of plant-based protein, over 30 essential vitamins and nutrients and heart health to boot, it’s no wonder we call it The Perfectly Powerful Peanut, and they are naturally cholesterol- and gluten-free. Eating a handful of nuts, including peanuts, may contribute to cardiovascular health," he adds.