People of all ages, including millennials, eat soup. But how do you get younger folks to get really excited
The communications and brand teams at Campbell's aimed to figure that out as the company rolled out its new line of Go soups aimed at young diners looking for bold flavors. Lots of brands might assume the way to grab the attention of that age group would be through Facebook posts and some tweets. Instead, Campbell's opted to go face to face.
"What we've seen in a lot of our immersions with this consumer is, you get this consumer at the table, you get good food in front of them, and it's a very natural conversation," says Nelson Warley, senior brand manager for Campbell's Go.
That's just what Campbell's did. In New York and Chicago, the brand asked a group of influential, young hosts—documentarians, improvisers, entrepreneurs, musicians, bloggers—to host 10 "communal table" meals in mid-November, so 10 to 15 people ages 18 to 34 could try the new soups and talk.
From that seed of just over 100 people, the brand hopes to see its message radiate across the Web.
Setting the table
Campbell's started working on this project about a year and a half ago, Warley says. As it was getting off the ground, the brand team quickly decided to create focus groups of millennials to find out what they like and what they don't, what their food passions are, and what annoys them about the convenience foods they buy.
The team also wanted to build some word-of-mouth about the line, because millennials trust their friends. In surveys, two-thirds of millennials say they won't go to a restaurant without a recommendation from a friend.
"It felt like a natural progression to do this now," Warley says. "We learned how they lived, how they ate, how they shopped. They are always on and always connected. We think the message has real potential to spread."
To ensure that spread, Campbell's reached out to connected young folks via Facebook and through the lunch hosts' own social networks to build a pool of interested people. From that pool, Campbell's chose the participants in the communal tables.
"From the brand side, what we wanted to see was engaging conversations from around the table," Warley says. "The dialogue has been really natural. It's gone in different directions, sometimes expectedly, sometimes unexpectedly."
The response to the soups themselves has been really good, he says.
Liesl Henderson, director of communications for Campbell's North America, says the brand has picked up on lots of Instagram photos and tweets from the communal table events.
A quick Twitter search for the hashtag #CampbellsGo does, in fact, yield dozens of tweets, many of which include links to photos of the events.
The lunch table isn't the only place Campbell's is reaching out to millennials, though. The company has forged partnerships with music service Spotify, news aggregator BuzzFeed, and Rovio, the company that developed "Angry Birds," to catch the attention of young adults, too.
"It just made all the sense in the world to go where they are," Warley says.
For example, Spotify is serving as host for "a curation of songs that highlight attributes" of the bold Campbell's Go soups, he says. Users who listen to particular songs get access to full playlists and coupons for soup.
Campbell's has also offered coupons on retailer websites. Millennials might not cut coupons out of the Sunday paper, but they're definitely looking for deals.
"We wanted to prioritize, through digital and social avenues, coupons that were easy to download," Warley says. "You have a lot of downloading to your mobile device. You have to make it easy for them. You have to provide a wide array of options."
More options may be coming. Warley says the company is considering more communal table events in other cities.
"We're got to continue to look at what's working in the plan and what's not working, and just build on that."
Matt Wilson is a staff writer for Ragan.com.