How Heinz Foodservice Uses Digital Marketing Strategy

Heinz Tomato Ketchup
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Brendan Foley, President US Foodservice at Heinz, presented "How Heinz Foodservice Uses Digital Marketing: Driving Consumer Connection and Engagement" at the Food Industry Summit at Saint Josephs University.

Social Media Engagement

Social Media and Digital Marketing are part of a brand strategy. Jumping into the social and digital tactics first are just putting the cart before the horse and Heinz recognized this and decided on a three pronged strategy for a cross-channel retail and foodservice plan composed of three platforms:

  • How we connect (engage) with our customers
  • Helping their customers engage with the consumers and drive their business
  • Directly connecting and engaging Heinz consumers in the "away from home" food service environment

Heinz Foodservice customers are the restaurant operators, and the brand is also well known to the consumers. So Heinz explores ways to drive business to the operator (their customer) and more product consumption with the end consumer.

How Heinz Connect With Customers

Heinz first started with HeinzSoups.com but quickly realized that the site was static. Heinz wanted more website and social media engagement. Research suggested that their customers (foodservice operators) were going to the product side of the site to learn more about the products. So Heinz changed gears and created a site that allowed chefs and QSR operators to go deeper on the flavor side of the product information. They then created a section on Gluten Free and a section that shows three different ways to use soups in the restaurant.

They knew that soups varied by geographic region, so they shared the soup assortment by region and made it easier for the operator to create a strong regional assortment. Recognizing that "how to" was more than just a recipe; they expanded into videos on soup preparation. By capturing all of this in their database, it became easier to share.

The Recipes and Pairings page is a good example of how they give foodservice operators "easy to implement" ideas for their menus.

Mobile is not just for consumers, and many foodservice operators are rarely sitting in their office. So Heinz printed QR codes on each case of soup which allows the operator to scan the QR code with a smartphone and get the information they need without being in the office.

Helping Their Customers Engage With Consumers

They worked with Chilies in creating "magnetic poetry" mashup. This was a way for consumers to create a poem on the great things they like about Chilis and Heinz. The Facebook page garnered over 39,000 fans in 21 days with 139,000 poem entries and 13,000 Chilis opt-in emails. This a good example of content marketing that leads to capturing new customers that are more likely to convert to actual sales.

Many regional operators were seeing declining sales to children's parties. To stem this loss, they created silly bands. These were rubber bands in the shape of ketchup bottles. Eat N Park, a QSR operator, created an online digital campaign focused on moms. Since their kids were already crazy for other Crazybands, the ketchup bottle shapes bands helped drive more purchase of kids meals at the restaurants.​

Dip & Squeeze New Product Launch

Heinz knew their QSR operators were not selling enough ketchup with drive-thru orders. Why? Moms were not interested in getting ketchup with fries at QSR drive-thrus since the typical flexible portion packs leaked and created a mess in the back of the car. Hence the birth of Dip & Squeeze.

This is a portion control package that keeps the ketchup in a plastic container with a foil lid seal. The new product launch created awareness using the Heinz ketchup truck tour across major cities such as Dallas, New York and even visiting Macy's Day Parade. Developing more awareness and that all-important buzz, their social media efforts encouraged people to follow the Heinz truck on Twitter, generating social word of mouth and excitement around the product. Next, they created the Virtual Great Moment in Ketchup Experience video.

The video is a funny vignette shot in a minivan featuring a child with an older person voice-over touting the benefits of the neat, clean dip n squeeze package. To drive sales further and to make it easier for moms, Heinz created an app that finds the QSR operators who had dip n squeeze.

Table-Top Marketing at Heinz With QR Codes and Talking Labels

Heinz Foodservice is consistently connecting and engaging Heinz consumers in the away-from-home food service environment, and they have two constituencies to satisfy:

  1. The customer which is the QSR operator
  2. The consumer who is purchasing from the QSR

The Heinz Plant Bottle technology created a sustainable plastic bottle, allowing 30% of the plastic to be derived from sugar cane. To promote awareness of the plant bottle, they created a "talking label" on the bottle that gets you to scan the QR code on the bottom of the bottle. They are jumping on to the early trend of The Connected Table and since we order and wait for our meal, why not read about this environmentally friendly bottle to while away the time. It was a great "cross-channel" strategy since it drove brand messaging beyond their in-store shopper marketing efforts in the supermarket.