Narrowing The Gap Between Shopper And Brand Objectives With A Bottom-Up Approach

An all-too-common challenge for marketers is significant disconnect between objectives (and budget allocation) for generating brand awareness and driving sales. The good news is, marketers who look beyond more traditional campaigns are finding ways to effectively accomplish both — including Amy Colella, VP of marketing communications at The Padilla Group. Seeking crossover appeal for Padilla Foods’ El Yucateco hot sauce line, Colella turned to influencer campaigns to drive interest among a diverse U.S. audience.

El Yucateco, a nearly 50-year-old brand imported from Mexico, was carried almost exclusively — and in limited flavors — in Hispanic grocery stores until 1999 when Walmart added the product line. Other chain retailers eventually followed suit, resulting in explosive growth in the overall condiments/hot sauce category. As U.S. consumer interest in Hispanic flavors grew, the opportunity was ripe for El Yucateco to penetrate a new audience.



How did El Yucateco do this? 

1. Influencers helped spread the word.

Padilla launched campaigns with both Latina social influencers and general market food-focused bloggers to engage both new users needing an introduction to using hot sauce in everyday cooking, as well as seasoned (pun intended) consumers interested in new and inventive flavors to try. Influencers in our networks created authentic and engaging social posts and blog content, documenting their shopping experience and creating inspiring and fun dishes. Posts with easy-to-follow recipes and vibrant photography yielded high engagement across audiences. 

2. A focus on creating new usage occasions.

A key insight Padilla learned early on was that shoppers would purchase more than one sauce at a time. El Yucateco’s red and green sauces were traditionally considered “core” to their consumers, but Padilla sought to expand interest in their additional hot sauce flavor profiles. Creating recipes, both food and drink, and offering step-by-step guides for consumers to use the sauces beyond just as a condiment allowed the brand to accomplish two things:

  • Gain traction with hesitant users who were interested in the flavor but feared it was too hot. 
  • Expand the product usage and perception as a flavor enhancer, by making sauces a critical and flavorful part of the meal, the kitchen, the bar and the home. 

3. Highlighting the path to purchase in content. 

Often, shoppers have issues finding the product they are looking for because advertising showcases the retailer, but rarely mentions where the product is merchandised in-store. Through the influencer campaigns, blog posts illustrated through in-store pictures exactly where to find the products in ethnic aisles at retailers. Every single influencer post was specific to a retailer/region and the variety of available products. This meant that in addition to pointing consumers to the in-store location, influencers also directed them to which retailer had which flavors beyond the well-known “core” sauces, a critical component of the retailer-specific shopper strategy.

In a crowded category with limited shelf space, El Yucateco’s multifaceted campaign employed social media to use the brand’s authentic appeal to influence consumers during the path-to-purchase. Consumers were inspired to purchase El Yucateco products through social content that showcased how to use the hot sauces, where to find them in store and the reasons for sharing the flavors with their friends and family. Influencers helped engage with new customers, who in turn, spread word of the brand across their own personal social platforms. How’s that for a bottom-up approach? 

Today, El Yucateco is ranked in the top 10 selling hot sauces in the U.S., and is the #1 selling Habanero Sauce in the country. It is carried by the majority of the U.S. grocery chains, and although is still the smallest of the top 10 brands, it maintains double digit growth in sales, volume, distribution, social media followers and new fan base for the last four years running.

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