When is a nut not a nut? Transforming the Fisher Nut Brand

The John B. Sanfilippo & Son Company took a hard look at their business inside and out to revitalize one of its most beloved brands in a dormant, commoditized industry and transform the company from one of the nation’s largest nut manufacturers to a savvy, relevant CPG company and shift their corporate mindset from sales support to customer-centric.

The transformation had to start at the top. With a C-suite of 4th generation family ties and a “prove it to me first” culture, JBSS brought in brand agency Blue Chip Marketing to help make the case for change that would result in 37 consecutive quad weeks of volume growth and nearly 9% annual growth.

Together, JBSS and Blue Chip implemented a 3-pronged strategy for success:

  1. Grow the JBSS core brands through organizational alignment and talent acquisition
  2. Reinvent the brand to make it more relevant to consumers worldwide by focusing on what makes a nut stand out and appealing, such as its freshness and significance as an ingredient in a recipe.
  3. Create consumer engagement by going to market with a convergence of culture, creativity and cooking.

Through the process, JBSS learned a key ingredient for success is to have strong synergy between marketing and sales, as well as strong consumer insights to grow the brands and link them to relevant store experience so that consumers can “find your brand.”

The transformation required new talent who were experts in consumer insights. With a more united marketing and sales front, the team had the ability to create differentiation in a highly commoditized industry with limited budget. They learned that little changes can make a big difference. Innovation can come in small increments and pay off big.

In making the nut brand relevant, JBSS discovered there was a desire among consumers for freshness that led to different packaging and a fresher claim. Thus, these brand messages emerged: Fisher Naturals; an ad campaign that touted Fisher Nuts: The only national brand of recipe nuts entirely without preservatives; Crack Open the Freshness, Introducing the New Clear Can from Fisher; and Oven Roasted to Perfection, Never Fried.

A brand can maintain its equity but change its voice to grow through differentiation.

In moving Fisher Nut company from a manufacturer to a CPG company, the organization moved from thinking about nuts purely as an ingredient to thinking about nuts as inspiration in cooking, eating, entertaining through an integrated marketing approach with a bias for content vs. advertising to manage budget. As a result, there was an immediate shift to social media from traditional forms of advertising and PR.

JBSS struck a collaborative partnership with The Food Network, which was paramount in the success of the Fisher Nut brand revitalization. In addition, JBSS created a highly engaging and influential blogging network, which contributes a huge part of the evolution and increased advocacy for the brand. Through content marketing across digital and mobile, Food Network Magazine and vignettes, recipes, contests and other social platforms, the nut brand became viewed as an integral part of the culinary experience.

The result: Increased marketing share in the category: More pounds of nuts in high franchise markets.

Did you know that the Thanksgiving holiday season is the biggest season for pecans? The transformation enabled Fisher Nuts to strike a successful and innovative partnership with Karo – the leading  brand of syrup used in pecan pie recipes.

That’s the power of “thinking differently.”

Author: 
Judi Myers, Marketing Strategist, VP Communications/Brand, Chicago AMA

Judi is currently on assignment at Becker Professional Education in their CPA and healthcare businesses, and with the international trade association of Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors in their foreign relations business.

 

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