Collaborating to Deliver Shopper Success: A Smithfield Story

Collaboration is becoming critical to shopper marketing success and CPG revenue growth. Smithfield Foods evidenced this at the 2018 Path to Purchase Expo in a presentation they gave with agency partner, Edge Marketing. The seminar shared the story of how through strategic collaboration, Smithfield Foods’ shopper marketing department grew from the execution of only 12 programs in 2013, to 400 executed nationally in 2018.

Emily Detwiler, Senior Brand Manager, explained how Smithfield laid the foundation for the shopper marketing success by focusing on internal alignment, particularly between their sales, category and brand teams. The goal was to socialize the role shopper would play in the organization and unite departments around a clear business objective for the next shopper campaign to solve. With all players at the table, they were able to agree upon a campaign approach grounded in both consumer and category insights. On the category side, they faced the challenge of low sales volume in comparison to other proteins due to pork’s perceived lack of versatility. On the consumer side, was the need to solve one of the  biggest pain points facing parents each day—answering the question of “what’s for dinner?”Agreeing that they needed to create a campaign that would present pork as a multi-faceted meal solution for busy parents, the “Real Flavor, Real Fast.” campaign took life.

The launch of was the first step in a campaign that would present Smithfield’s pre-marinated pork products as an easy, yet high-quality, meal solution. The website offers hundreds of inspirational pork recipes that can be prepared in 30 minutes or less, filterable by skill level and cook time. While the website’s promotion of “quick and easy” gained the attention of busy moms, Smithfield knew they needed to equally highlight the diversity of flavors one could achieve with their products. To do this, they partnered with the largest distributor of California wines, Gallo Wines, and matched each recipe on the website with the perfect wine pairing. The “perfect pairing” program was only the beginning of their partnership though. Smithfield and Gallo collaborated to create a contest where consumers could submit their tips or tricks for how they get dinner ready in less than 30 minutes using Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork. The prize was an all-expense paid trip to wine country in Napa Valley, with voters given a chance to win one of hundreds of Walmart gift cards, and winning tips displayed on the campaign website. The recipe gallery, wine pairings and contest worked to cohesively demonstrate the ease and versatility of the product, and in turn, introduced pork into the mainstream meal planning mix.

With digital engagement soaring from their recipe website, Smithfield then turned their focus to driving in-store promotion. In reviewing customer profitability, they determined Walmart to be the most valuable retailer to design a custom program for. While Smithfield had won ownership of Walmart’s summer grilling display the past several years, they knew that in order to hold their reign, they had to devise a way to bring the program to life in a fresh way. Smithfield did so by bringing three brand partners to the table: Clorox Co.’s Kingsford, Weber-Stephen Products’ and Anheuser-Busch. The result was a program called Smithfield’s “Hog Wild Throwdown,” which unlike prior years, would leverage the strengths of multiple brands to create a solution that would present Walmart as not just the best place for fresh pork, but the best place to get all the items needed to throw a great barbecue.

Kicking off in March, the “Hog Wild Throwdown” contest asked Walmart shoppers to submit grilling recipes and images, featuring Smithfield products, to vie for one of 6,500 prizes. The top three entrants came together for a final throwdown with pitmasters at the American Royal World Series BBQ in Kansas City. The contest received over 800,000 entries and one million views on the campaign website, but the success of the program was primarily measured by the in-store results, which included a dramatic increase in pork sales, rib baskets, and household buy rates, coupled by a tripling in conversion rates. With these results, Smithfield not only won the 2016 Summer Grilling Walmart business, they secured the next two years.

With the ongoing success of these two campaigns, Smithfield shows us that by creating a collaborative shopper marketing structure that aligns your business, brand partners and customers around shared objectives, a small shopper department can evolve into a mass-scale program driving transformative growth.

As Detwiler explained, today, retailers now not only want, but expect suppliers to approach them with creative partnership opportunities. The brands that can build credibility with their retailers by showing understanding of their unique shoppers, category drivers and promotional calendar will be the ones to rise to the top.

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