How food brands are using experiential rewards to boost sales

Make way for experiential rewards. It's time to put the fluffy tigers to the side. 

In June 2017, children’s biscuit brand, Barny launched a new on-pack promotion offering consumers the chance to win a five night safari to South Africa’s Kruger National Park. It certainly beats the chance to win a fluffy tiger...

Barny is not the only food brand to invest in experiential rewards to boost sales. Cadbury’s is currently offering families the chance to win a family farmyard weekend away, while Burton’s Biscuit Company recently gave consumers the opportunity to win an ‘ultimate fan experience’, tailored to the value of £2,500.

Why people love experiences

There is science behind our love of experiences.

A 20-year study conducted by Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, concluded that experiences make us happier than material possessions.

“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods,” said Gilovich.

“You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless they remain separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

When it comes to effective consumer promotions, the average consumer is both savvy and cynical, so searching for the spark to offer your audience the experiences that'll ignite a real passion for your product can be a tough process. But fear not! Check out the below for a starting point...

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Participatory prizes can be tightly tailored to an audience…

It makes sense that brands tap into this hunger, and create rewards which will live on in the memory, positively reinforcing the brand that made it happen.

Experiences also allow brands to craft rewards for a specific audience, based on their needs and interests.

For food brands, food-related experiences appeal to core consumers, motivating purchases, while offering an opportunity to underline the brand’s own expertise and credentials.

…as one butter brand and supermarket found out

Last Christmas we worked with a leading butter brand and a major supermarket to create a food related experiential promotion.

Consumers were tempted by the chance to host the ‘ultimate dinner party, with a professional chef cooking a meal for the winner and their guests at home, preparing recipes using the brand of butter as one of the ingredients.

Runners up had the chance to win a Christmas themed cookery course - think ‘festive baking’ and ‘Christmas canapes’ - combined with a stay in a four star hotel.

Runners up also received a Christmas hamper for two after the experience, filled with ingredients for them to put their new skills into practice.

The promotion enabled the brands to appeal to their target consumers with a seasonal treat, showing a clear alignment with both brands’ offerings.

The dinner party was an inspired way to create memories and spawn photos to share, while the cookery course equipped consumers with new skills.

The addition of a relevant gift after the cookery course meant the experience also lived on.

Barny wanted to get kids outdoors

For Barny, the inspiration for its South African safari promotion came from trying to tap into many parents’ struggle to lure their kids away from computer games and television. As Daniel Kessler, Barny senior brand manager said:

“In today’s digital age, it seems that parents are forever battling with the challenge of keeping their child from spending hours staring at a screen. We believe that the world is a much more interesting place if you look closely, and have launched this promotion to help children uncover the exciting secrets of the great outdoors.”

Barny brand owner, Mondelez hopes that its promotion, called Rangers, will help to kick start kids’ curiosity and interest in the outdoor world, as well as fuelling their appetite for outdoor play.

It has a clear understanding of both its end user - kids - and the purchaser - parents - with prizes that are likely to enthuse both audiences.

The promotion is designed to drive brand growth through penetration by incentivising shopper purchase, with consumers required to buy any Barny multi-pack before entering their unique code online.

The headline prize is a real show stealer, but the brand has also had the good sense to offer a weekly draw, giving consumers the chance to win 500 Barny binoculars and 500 Discovery Diary activity books to boot.

Cadbury’s pulled at the heartstrings

Cadbury’s on-pack promotion not only offers consumers the chance to win a farmyard weekend away for the family, but cleverly leads with a highly emotive element - animal adoption, something likely to tug at the heartstrings of both kids and parents.

Its Adopt a Cow promotion runs on singles and multipacks of Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons, Freddo and Little Bars, requiring consumers to enter a unique on-pack code on a dedicated website.

Cadbury's experiential reward pulled the heart strings

When doing this, consumers are presented with photos of named cows looking to be adopted.

Clicking on these prompts a video to play - complete with a mock cow voice - expressing each animal’s personality.

Once an animal has been adopted, consumers receive newsletters - or ‘moosletters' - with updates on the cow, keeping people engaged.

The family that wins the weekend away get to meet the cow they have adopted, completing the circle.

The dedicated web site brought the experience alive

Cadbury’s has also introduced a gaming element on the site, appealing to visitors to match the cow to the personality.

Its interactivity includes a ‘Moo Translator’, inviting consumers to enter their message and hear it translated into cow language. Simple, but effective - the translator has already attracted over 170,000 views - helping to engage visitors more deeply with the concept of adopting a cow.

The thinking behind Cadbury’s experiential promotion was to reinforce Cadbury’s Dairy Milk’s use of fresh ingredients from British and Irish farms. As David McDermott, Cadbury brand manager said:

“For many people, Cadbury Dairy Milk was their first taste of chocolate thanks to the iconic glass and a half credentials, but in research we uncovered that one in five children do not know that milk comes from cows!”

Like Barny, Cadbury’s has adopted a simple redemption technique, with consumers entering their unique code on a dedicated website, giving them access not only to the competition, but to a wealth of engaging and interactive information about the brand.

Burton’s wanted to wow millennials…

For Burton’s Biscuit Company, its Join Our Fans campaign was about building the fan base of its Fish n Chips savoury snack, which was voted the No.1 retro brand of the 80s to ‘bring back’ in polls in The Grocer and The Sun.

In particular, Burton’s wanted to appeal to younger shoppers.

The activity, which ran until the end of June 2017, was the company’s biggest ever promotional marketing campaign, with a hefty £1m prize fund.  

Burton’s offered consumers the opportunity to win one of 20,000 £50 Ticketmaster Gift Cards to spend on an event or activity of their choice.

In addition, the headline prize from a monthly draw was an ‘ultimate fan experience’, allowing three winners to create their own experience to the value of £2,500.

…and younger audiences crave experiences

It was a savvy move given Burton’s target audience.

There has been much publicity about younger audiences, specifically millennials, favouring experiences over material possessions.

One key finding from Bauer Media’s year long study into the lives of 16-34 year olds in 2015 was that “unique, fleeting and personal” experiences are the millennials’ ultimate bespoke status symbol.

Consumers were invited to enter their unique code on the dedicated Join Our Fans web site, which also encouraged people to interact and share their stories - something else for which millennials have a keen appetite.

But what is an ‘ultimate fan experience’?

While the prize fund was certainly attractive, Burton’s could perhaps have elucidated on what an ‘ultimate fan experience’ entails.

The campaign was supported by social media content, which added some meat to the bones - alluding to “going to see top footie stars to seeing a band up close and personal” - but maybe Burton’s could have tantalised consumers with some on-pack examples of what they might soon be lucky enough to experience, helping their promotion to stand out on the shelf.

After all, experiential rewards lend themselves well to assets that can bring a campaign alive.

Experiences are the future…

Experiences clearly have a strong appeal for consumers of all ages, but with millennials now comprising a quarter of the UK population - and due to number 17 million by 2019* - brands would do well to start thinking beyond material rewards to experiences that will stand out.

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*Inkling Millennial Report 2016