Around this time last year, Nestlé’s Gerber brand wanted to raise awareness and promote trial of Lil’ Beanies, a new product that, in the words of brand manager David Greci, “is a bit of a different proposition from some of our other products.” The navy-bean-based snack for toddlers boasts that it has two grams of protein per serving, is non-GMO and contains no artificial flavors or colors.
One other thing it did not have was a large advertising budget. So Gerber decided to rely on influencers such as Kristy, the creator of a blog dubbed “Mommy Hates Cooking,” to spread the word to the caregivers of its target consumers.
“It was a nice story about how her child had a play date and they used Gerber Lil’ Beanies,” says Greci. As with many of the most successful executions in the campaign, he was particularly impressed by the quality of Kristy’s photographs. As important as conveying the positive nutritional information may be, “seeing that the kids are eating it and enjoying it is kind of a nice thing. We want moms to understand that their toddlers are going to like the snack as well.”
There were two phases to the campaign. “We did a flight focusing on having the storytellers direct their followers to stores where we knew we had distribution early on. That was some of the bigger customers, like a Walmart or Target. Then we had a second phase where we went to some of our regional grocery accounts to like a Publix,” Greci recalls.,
“What was nice was as the campaign was happening, if you Googled Gerber, or just Lil’ Beanies, you would start to see some of these sites come up organically. Right from clicking on the link you're seeing beautiful photography that’s of children eating the product or the mom looking for it,” Greci recalls.
Gerber relied on San Francisco-based influencer-marketing firm Linqia to recruit, manage and pay the bloggers, posters and tweeters -- which, in the end, added up to 324 voices singing the praises of Lil’ Babies’ in their various social media channels on a performance-based pricing model.
“The influencers that are getting more engagement on their stories -- and more engagement going to the Gerber landing page to learn more about the Lil’ Beanies product -- have a higher compensation range,” explains Eileen Bernardo, Linqia’s senior communications manager.
Linqia, which works with 250 brands including Black & Decker, JP Morgan Chase, Kimberly-Clark, NBC, Samsung, Unilever and Viacom, recently released a survey of 207 marketers that found 86% of them use influencer marketing as part of their content strategy. And 88.5% of those who use influencer content find it to be a “valuable part” of their marketing plan.
It’s also cost-efficient, apparently.
“Marketers report spending 2.6X less on average for content creation when working with influencers versus working with a professional to produce the same output,” according to “The Value of Influencer Marketing 2017.”
Other findings are:
The bottom line for Gerber?
“At the end of the day, we had a very strong program with great trial,” says Greci.