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From Junk Food to Veggies: Borrowing Marketing Strategies

By: Abby Penning
Posted: December 28, 2010

Turns out, the key to getting kids to eat their vegetables is a big green ogre. Or possibly packaging and advertising set to mimic the junk food industry.

Recent marketing efforts for Vidalia onions and baby carrots, respectively, show how a twist in pitching products to consumers have capitalized on pop culture and more hip imaging than traditional promotions of health and lifestyle benefits, and have also targeted an ever-increasingly important buyer—kids. Vidalia onions partnered with DreamWorks movie Shrek Forever After, featuring the signature green cartoon image on packaging and in-store displays, and saw a significant jump in sales in the spring and early summer of 2010. Additionally, carrot growers such as Bolthouse Farms launched junk food-stylized promotions, which include packaging designed to look like bags of potato chips and the ability to buy bags of baby carrots out of vending machines, in the fall of 2010 to capitalize on the back-to-school schedule.

Giving a hip appeal to products that traditionally have seemed less cool, these marketing efforts are breathing more of a childlike life into products that are typically seen as adult fare. Additionally, the promotions, though seeming to target a younger demographic, don’t just appeal to kids. These efforts also have made these products a talking point, whether it’s through moms figuring out ways to incorporate Vidalias into a larger range of meals, after kids begged their parents to pick up a bag of Shrek-annointed onions, or discussions on the merits of touting carrots with slogans such as “The original orange doodles.”

While these campaigns are also keeping some of veggies’ health benefits visible, as consumers are ingrained with the idea of associating vegetables with their nutritional value, this marketing twist opens the eyes of new customers and market segments—baby carrots as a convenience food, for example. These marketing ideas are smart, picking up initiatives that have been successful for other industries and smoothly working them within their own. Whether these veggie promotions will be a steadfast marketing strategy for the future remains to be seen, but the ability to shift these focuses and ideas is something that will be useful for years to come.