Veggies Made Great Senior Brand Manager, Christine Luongo, contributed insights into building customer loyalty in a recent article for Loyalty360. The following article was originally published here.
Veggies Made Great makes a bold statement in how they make their products: the first ingredient in every product we make is vegetables.
Their double-chocolate muffin? The first ingredient is zucchini, followed by carrots. Their taste? Delicious.
“We always say that — whether you love veggies or don’t love them —Veggies Made Great has a product offering for you because you can’t taste the zucchini or carrots in our double-chocolate muffin,” says Christine Luongo, Senior Brand Manager for Veggies Made Great.
Making great food products is one thing; convincing consumers to eat their vegetables is another. But Veggies Made Great has been successful in inspiring people to love eating veggies by creating high-quality, remarkably delicious, and nutritionally smart, veggie-rich foods that are ready to eat and available everywhere, including Walmart, Costco, Target, and ShopRite.
Luongo and her team at Veggies Made Great were recognized for their efforts by taking a Silver at the 2020 Loyalty360 Awards in the Customer Engagement and Advocacy category in a program in partnership with Vesta.
“No other brand can own Veggies Made Great’s claim of having vegetables as its first ingredient,” says Luongo. “This unique market position has earned it a passionately loyal following.”
Harnessing Consumer Energy to Build Consumer Advocacy
Consumers are so enthusiastic about the brand that Luongo says they regularly reach out to say how much they enjoy the products. That led the marketers at Veggies Made Great to seek a solution into how they could harness their consumer energy to build consumer advocacy; the answer they came to was an online community, a central destination where they could bring their brand loyalists together and learn from them, as well as provide them with information, introduce them to other like-minded people, and utilize their passion for building awareness through advocacy campaigns.
“When I first joined the company, I was blown away at the loyalty of the brand,” Luongo says. “And I think that we see such high consumer loyalty because there’s really no other brand out there on the market that can state veggies will always be the first ingredient. We don’t consider ourselves to have any direct competitors, and because of that, consumer loyalty and advocacy is just off the chart.”
Veggies Made Great ingeniously dubbed their loyal followers as “Veg Heads,” who were regularly reaching out to the brand to share their enthusiasm and excitement about the products. As a newer and smaller challenger brand, Luongo says the company realized they needed a way to effectively and efficiently engage with these consumers and harness their passion to power online brand advocacy.
They turned to Vesta and its Vesta Community SaaS platform to create the Veggies Made Great community, an online branded community designed to build loyalty, drive engagement, and activate advocacy among Veggies Made Great consumers. The community quickly established itself as a welcoming destination for the products’ consumers, establishing loyalty between transactions, driving game-changing brand evangelism, and elevating sales.
“We wanted to be able to scale that and harness all of that energy that we were seeing that was going on, whether it was people posting about us on Instagram or people sending us a message to say ‘I took your muffins to a school birthday party and gave out some coupons,’” Luongo says. “We knew all of that was going on, but we wanted to build a central source where we could sort of organize that energy and scale that energy.”
Inviting Consumers into the Community
She says Veggies Made Great invited consumers of their products into the community with a simple ask: “If you’re interested in learning more about the brand, having access to health experts, and partaking in missions and offers and surveys in exchange for chances to win a free product or free product coupons, we’d love for you to join this community.”
“We tapped our typical channels: our email subscriber list, our social media followers,” Luongo says. “And right out of the gate, I think within the first year, we hit over 10,000 community members.”
With an average purchase cycle of 2-4 weeks, Luongo says the community that Vesta built for them offers a platform to provide value to consumers and keep them engaged and loyal between purchases in three ways:
- Word-of-Mouth Campaigns: To build awareness of their challenger brand, the marketers at Veggies Made Great have created innovative word-of-mouth campaigns to drive user-generated content and organic advocacy. Creative missions have built engagement through gamification and social sharing, driving consumers in-store to “plant” coupons or online to post hilarious videos of members’ veggie “reveals” after their children sampled their Double Chocolate Muffin. These fun activities drive authentic excitement and brand advocacy.
- Surveys: The marketers at Veggies Made Great utilize surveys to identify and segment users, enabling them to ensure the highest level of personalization in their activations and communications; understanding preferences, purchase habits, and lifestyle characteristics enable Veggies Made Great to deliver target activations that reinforce consumers’ connection with the brand and drive meaningful engagement.
- Discussion Forums: The Discussion Forum offers “Veg Heads” the opportunity to engage with each other and the brand, building trust, and a sense of community. In addition to dietary discussions, the forum focuses on cultivating a holistic lifestyle environment, including bringing dieticians and personal trainers to answer questions and focusing on family health and wellness content.
Transform Digital Relationships into Offline Actions
With minimal lead time and creative assets, the marketers at Veggies Made Great were able to transform a digital relationship into offline actions with major impact at the retail level, driving members in-store to purchase products or “plant coupons.” Last fall, they launched the “Plant a Coupon” mission, which asked Veg Heads to “plant” discount coupons on product boxes in stores nationwide and then spread the word on social media. The campaign created a “treasure hunt mentality,” Luongo says, engaging community members as well as those who found the coupons on products in-store. In addition to generating a coupon redemption rate that was 30% higher than the industry average, the campaign created explosive interest and fun for members.
“They could sign up to receive 20 stickers and 20 coupons in the mail from us with stickers that say ‘Planted by a Veg Head,’” Luongo says. “And we asked them actually to go into retail stores and plant the coupons on boxes, on the shelf in the stores. And we promoted sort of this gamification mission, which really engaged the community members.”
She says consumers would often take a picture of their sticker and post it on social media with messages such as, “Go check out the coupons that I planted at the Target on Main Street and save a dollar when you purchase Veggies Made Great.”
“We had a lot of fun with them with missions like that,” Luongo says. “We also utilize the community to gain insights into our consumers. We do that obviously to help us as a brand, but ultimately help the community members and our consumers.”
The company also utilized the Vesta community with their most engaged community members to get insight into some of the products they had in the ‘innovation pipeline.’
“It’s been really fun for the community members and been very eye-opening for us as a brand to say, ‘How do you think this nutritional profile looks? How did you feel about the taste? What’d you think of the texture?’” Luongo says. “It’s been fun for the community members to partake in those activities. It’s been really helpful to the brand to know that when we go to the market with a product we have, that sort of ‘pulse checks’ the consumer before it even launches.”
Impressive Results of the Campaigns
The results have been impressive. Community data shows that 93% of community members are likely to recommend the Veggies Made Great brand to their friends and family, an increase of 15% over when they first join the community. Luongo says this has helped produce their robust Net Promoter Score of 73%.
Community data from the Vesta platform shows that prior to joining the community, fewer than half of the members have tried the products. After joining, 9 out of 10 report purchasing, a 43% purchase conversion. And 53% of members report purchasing the product at least once per month. Through the community, the Veggies Made Great team is able to capture the number of social posts, product reviews, and photos members post. In just one year, the community has generated over 6,630 total reviews for the brand, and more than 2.2 million social impressions.
“Because we are a better-for-you brand, people love to share about us; they love to tell their friends and family about us,” Luongo says. “If you’re feeding your kid a double chocolate muffin, you might as well feed them Veggies Made Great double chocolate muffin because of the health benefits that come with it. And we know that people are excited to share about the brand.”