The Lempert Report LIVE

Demystifying Local Food & Exploring Data Storytelling: Insights into Pepsi's Dig In Program and Hot Pockets' Marketing Strategy

July 03, 2023 Phil Lempert Episode 85
The Lempert Report LIVE
Demystifying Local Food & Exploring Data Storytelling: Insights into Pepsi's Dig In Program and Hot Pockets' Marketing Strategy
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Do you find yourself puzzled when it comes to understanding the real meaning of 'local food'? Fear not, as Phil and Sally embark on a journey to demystify this often misleading term. We'll uncover how the lack of clear legislation around 'local' has led to its misuse, with intriguing examples that might leave you stunned. Equally captivating is our discussion around Pepsi's Dig In program, a progressive initiative that shines a spotlight on Black-Owned restaurants. We'll reveal the impact of this program and how you can be a part of this change.

In the latter part of our conversation, we steer towards the compelling world of data storytelling in conversation with Janine Kurnoff from the Presentation Company. Discover how a gripping narrative can enhance the impact of data, and what could happen if we slip into old habits. We'll also take you through a historical tour of K&K Toys, Family Dollar, and Ben Franklin Stores, and their evolution over the years. Wrapping up, we'll share insights into Hot Pockets' recent challenges and the exciting marketing strategy they're adopting to bounce back. Join us as we navigate through these engaging stories and share valuable lessons along the way.

Phil:

Welcome to the Lempert Report LIVE. On today's broadcast. Local, is it just a gimmick? Pepsi's new contest a really smart chef that happens to be a robot and on the bull's eye, is Hot Pockets about to become hot again? Let's get started. So, Sally, you know we've talked for years about what local is, whether it's down the block, whether it's, you know, in the same state, whether it's in the same country, whether it's on the planet. I mean all those things. And now the Guardian has a terrific article that really talks about the fact that people are more confused about local than ever before. One of the examples that they give, which I love, is that in Oakland, California, they looked at a non-dairy yogurt product that was marked local. And what they found, even though the company who makes the yogurt is located in San Francisco, the cashews that are in the yogurt come from Vietnam, more than 7,500 miles away, or the Ivory Coast, about 7,300 miles away. What they also found is two thirds of people perceive that local is more environmentally friendly, but according to experts, including an ex-Whole Foods merchandiser, they say it's a scam. What do you think?

Sally:

Yes, Phil, this can be very confusing for these two-thirds of consumers that you were talking about just now. A lot of those consumers are interested in buying local foods because not only do they want to support their local economies, but they also are interested in reducing carbon, our carbon footprint, and see that as a way of buying in a more environmentally friendly manner. However, there isn't an agreement on what local means, so that can be left up to the grocer, and in some cases that can mean which is largely considered local by a lot of people that it is grown within 100 miles of the facility. But for some, that is a local food is where it comes from, where their headquarters are located, and not necessarily where the food was grown or made.

Phil:

And that's the problem and that's why we really need legislation. This terrific article also talks about another example. There's a Austin, texas-based candy company which is in Texas and they call themselves local, but their chocolate comes from Guitard, which is based in California, and they sourced their cocoa from Ecuador, which is 2,500 miles away, and West Africa, which is 6,000 miles away. So I think that if, in fact, we're going to rely on local being a good marketing term and we know it sells and we know it also sells for more expensive prices we really need some legislation here, because otherwise I think that we're going to lose the allure of local, we're misleading consumers, we're misleading supermarket buyers and it's just not fair.

Sally:

Yes, and in the case that you just mentioned, we also have what's called Fair Trade products, which chocolate has been known to be sourced from Fair Trade situations in other countries, and consumers can feel good about those, because we are supporting those economies where there are food makers and growers that are living in situations where they need the support of outside economies to keep their agriculture system going.

Phil:

Yeah, absolutely. I think I like - you can tell me if I do or not - Pepsi's new program. They've teamed up with food reviewer Keith Lee on TikTok. He has, I think, over 12 million followers on TikTok and what it's about is the Pepsi Dig In program, which is designed to drive access, business growth and awareness for black-owned restaurants, and what they're now doing is they're reaching out to consumers to have submissions for his restaurant royalty program, where you could win a lot of cool stuff. Matter of fact, what you do is you go into diginshowlove. com or you can scan a code on the display in the restaurant itself. You could win one of 10,000 gift cards towards dining at your recommended restaurant, as well as other really cool prizes that Pepsi's doing. And I really like this program because it brings and it highlights these black-owned restaurants that people might not know. Number one are black-owned or might have a terrific cuisine that people are not familiar with. And one grand prize winner is going to get a trip for two to Las Vegas and tickets to the Super Bowl and a chance to dine at Pepsi Dig In Royal Restaurant Royalty Residency at the MGM Resorts International. So are you going to sign up?

Sally:

Absolutely. I think this is a fantastic program and Keith Lee is a fantastic personality on TikTok. He's only 27 years old and people are absolutely loving his discoveries of local mom and pop restaurants and really amplifying their businesses. On this program it sets out to do that for these black-owned restaurants and, in addition to what the consumers that sign up, that what they can win, there will also be 10 restaurant royals that get a chance to get additional amplification across PepsiDig. So they're going to get programs to help them. They're going to get expert consulting services and ways to build their businesses better.

Phil:

And I think they also get a $10,000 stipend from Pepsi, which is great. Well, good for Pepsi. It's a great program that you know, and typically we're critical of a lot of consumer programs and we're going to be critical of one in a bit, but this is one of those programs that's well thought out that's really going to make a difference. So good for you, Pepsi. Let's talk a bit about technology. So the researchers from the University of Cambridge have taken a robot and made the robot into a chef. And what's interesting about this is the chef, after watching the researchers actually making dishes, the AI that's been utilized and probably some machine learning as well is actually able to emulate exactly what these human chefs did perfectly. So I guess one of the questions that I have for you is this. Is this the solution for our labor shortage and fast food and not even fast food in other restaurants that we can train these robots and put them making our food?

Sally:

That's a great question, and for some businesses, it may seem like a great solution. I don't know how many consumers out there would like to have a robot making their food, in the case of this robot chef. This robot chef learned eight salad recipes and then also was able to create a ninth recipe on its own from learning those eight recipes, which is incredible. Technology is incredible, and the things that we're doing with AI can be very useful and provide a lot of solutions. I, for one, would like a human to make my salad.

Phil:

I don't know. I will take issue with that. I mean, when I look at food safety issues and I look at all those other problems, I might want a robot to actually be making my foods for me, who knows? Thanks, Sally. Storytelling with data was a smash hit at the 2023 CMA SIMA conference and our follow up webinar last week drew hundreds of attendees. In this clip, Janine Kurnoff of the Presentation Company, shares a powerful statistic on why a good story makes data insights memorable and then details why it's then time to tell the story when we retreat into old bad habits. Members who want to see Janine's easy to use framework for data storytelling can view the entire webinar on demand of the CMA resource library. Here's what they had to say.

Janine:

K R Perry was a franchisee of the Ben Franklin stores and he owned one of the store franchises and then learned how interesting it was to kind of cater to that category. But he had a bigger vision than just owning one or a couple franchise stores in the Brent Franklin chain. So he got together with his brother and another gentleman, brock, and they actually started what was K&K Toys, grew that chain up to about 130 stores and sold that to K&K Toys At the same time opened five and dime stores which he threw acquisition then ultimately became Dollar Tree. Family Dollar started at the same time. Leon Levine actually started the first store in 1959 as Family Dollar. His goal was to sell items that were $2 or less at a good value. And so you can see there, obviously, the positioning interesting, how all three stores. The other little tidbit of Ben Franklin stores Sam Walton was actually a franchise owner of Ben Franklin stores. That's how he got into. He was first as a store manager and then franchise owner and then sold his franchise to start, as we all know, homework. Interesting beginnings In the 70s to 90s. I think we can all look back and for the CPGs on the line if you've been around in the space for that long. you'll know that actually this channel expanded into packaged goods. But it wasn't really a channel that was a premier channel. It was more like an off channel where they sent close to code dated product to get it out of the grocery stores and actually use this channel to actually be a diversion channel to get cream and chicken soup, for instance that was about to expire, and get into a channel that they didn't want it sitting in the grocery store. And not that they were selling unsafe product, it was just absolutely could have been a little lacking in taste because it was getting close to code date.

Phil:

On today's bullseye. Can you remember when hot pockets hit the supermarket shelves back in 1983? It really was an innovation. A packaging sleeve and reformulated dough that would make a calzone like sandwich, crispy and microwavable. At the height of its success, the brand had 50 varieties of Hot Pockets and sales exceeded $2 billion a year. Now there's no doubt that the cult following of the brand has fallen to where its lowest point sales was just in the millions and the brand went through a number of recalls. So, marketing to the rescue, maybe. The new Hot Pocket sweepstakes is centered around the 30th anniversary of the magic the gathering card game. Here's what shoppers have to do. Collect all five of the limited edition magic boxes, then upload a photo of all five boxes and your supermarket receipt till September 30th 2023 and get ready for this. One lucky maybe person will win 30 years worth of Hot Pockets. Seriously, 30 years of Hot Pockets? I'm not even sure the brand will still be around in 30 years based on what's been going on the past decade or so. I'm only hoping that they're sending the winner the case every month or so. The good news is that there are a lot of winners who will receive codes to redeem magic rewards. This promotion is off target. When Nestle bought Hot Pockets, they tried and blamed just about everything, from reformulating to healthier recipes to blaming the reduction in SNAP benefits on their lackluster sales. The promotion is not going to fix anything. If Hot Pockets is to stay alive, it needs a complete makeover, not gimmicks. The good news is that during the height of the pandemic, Hot Pockets actually increased their sales. It was part nostalgia, part availability, part comfort food and maybe part boredom. It's time to relook at the potential Hot Pocket consumer and hone in on satisfying their taste, price and convenience needs. The Lempert Report is all about inspiring ideas, making our industry think and challenging each other. Let's think about being the shopper and how we can bring our supermarkets and our restaurants closer to meet their needs. I hope you'll come back to join us on next week's installment of the Lempert Report LIVE when we focus on the biggest and best insights and the things that really matter. Visit us at Supermarketguru. com all week for the latest marketing analysis issues and trends, and don't forget to join us back here next Monday at 2.30pm Eastern for more.

Local and Pepsi's Dig in Program
Data Storytelling & Hot Pockets Marketing