STATE OF GREAT TASTE
NOT ALL ICE CREAM IS CREATED EQUAL
When it comes to ice cream, being able to stand out from the crowd is a must. Private label brands, like Kroger’s Private Selection, must fight against the perception that they’re “knock-off products” that don’t rely on fresh-sourced ingredients or fresh ideas.
Staying ahead of flavor trends is timely, costly and limited by traditional research methods. The development process was yielding expected results. Not being thought of as innovative leaders in a category makes launching a new product like Michigan Cherry Cobbler ice cream, or any private label product with a fresh-sourced ingredients story a major task.
So the idea had to be bigger. It needed to tell a bigger story. It needed to change the way people thought both inside and outside of the company.
STRAIGHT FROM THE SOURCE
Set on a farm in the cherry capitol of the world, Traverse City, Michigan, 10 influential bloggers were selected and flown in from across the country to be immersed in the Private Selection story at the ingredient source of Michigan Cherry Cobbler ice cream. They were able to pick and taste the cherries right from the tree, meet the actual farmers and of try the new product before it hit store shelves.
The next phase of the journey was all about empowering these influencers to try their hand at turning unique ingredients from their home state into Private Selection ice cream. Set in a state-of-the-art test kitchen, bloggers worked with a Kroger food scientist and master chef to create ice cream flavors representative of their home states.
Together they concocted 30 unique flavors, including Mexican Hot Chocolate, Watermelon Jalapeno, and Huckleberry Pie and ultimately narrowed it down to one flavor per state. Each influencer named their flavor and created a short story documenting the inspiration behind their concoction.
LETTING THE MASSES DECIDE
The influencers shared their stories with their engaged audiences throughout the process, amplifying Private Selection’s credibility and adding legitimacy to their sourcing story.
To help build on that momentum, we created a robust online experience where consumers were able to hear the influencer’s inspiration, learn more about the 10 flavors and vote for the one they wanted to see in their Kroger store. The winning flavor would be packaged and sold nationwide across all Kroger stores.
MORE FROM THE SOURCE
The winning flavor: Huckleberry Pie from the state of Idaho. But there was more to winning than just the creation of a new, crowd-sourced flavor. Not only did this program successfully launch Michigan Cherry Cobbler during peak selling season, Kroger was able to recalibrate how they view flavor innovation. It doesn’t have to take place in a secret facility with only R&D in the know. In fact, there are many benefits to socializing the innovation process and inviting influential tastemakers and loyal shoppers into the conversation.