Merryfield App Simplifies 'Clean' Food, Rewards Shoppers

A new app called Merryfield rewards people for buying food products it categorizes as “clean” and “better for you.”

For the CPG brands among those curated by Merryfield, it’s not only a way to reach a desirable audience. It’s also a means to go beyond Whole Foods Market shoppers and convince, say, Walmart aficionados, to jump on the clean-food bandwagon.

Users of Merryfield scan printed store receipts to gain points for buying products from brands like Applegate, Califia Farms, Country Archer, Lesser Evil and Stonyfield Organic. Points can be redeemed for gift cards from Adidas, Airbnb, Nike, Panera Bread, REI, Sephora and Whole Foods.

But in the course of motivating people to download the Merryfield app from the Apple App Store, how do you explain to the uninitiated the meaning of “clean” foods? That can be a cavernous rabbit hole Alice in Wonderland might have avoided exploring —with or without hallucinogens.

Merryfield chose the humor route, as delivered by Chattanooga-based agency Humanaut in the form of a 1:35 video. It features a singer in a studio using phrases like “shopping with conviction” and “fixing the food system” in a lampoon of typical, do-good marketing terminology.

The singer is repeatedly interrupted by people outside the studio who don’t understand what he’s saying. Ultimately, he cuts to the chase by simply explaining how the Merryfield app delivers rewards.

In this interview, Humanaut founder and Chief Strategy Officer Andrew Clark talks about Merryfield’s potential for brands and consumers and why longer can be better when it comes to video content.

CPG FYI: What’s the bottom line here for brands?

Clark: It’s essentially an outsourced loyalty program, but with an added layer of being able to run promotions through the app. There is a network effect for “better for you brands” where they can actually start to speak to each other’s customers and cross promote, cross pollinate.

CPG FYI: The app would seem to reach a desirable target audience.

Clark: A big, ongoing challenge for brands like these is once they tap that more conscientious niche of consumers who really are plugged in, often they hit a little bit of a ceiling. It’s hard for them to level up and either go more mainstream or tap more of those consumers.

In order for these brands to truly grow, they have to get outside that granola niche of people who actually know the difference between wild-caught and farm-raised salmon. They need to talk to a more mainstream consumer who does care about those things, but their needs are much more pragmatic. They have less money to spend, they have less time to devote to Google research about sustainable food sources.

CPG FYI: What’s the attraction for shoppers?

Clark: It’s a chance to go to a place where everything is curated for you. The consumer insight is really about outsourcing all of the due diligence. The minute you start paying attention to this space, it’s easy to get completely overwhelmed. Do I need to be doing due diligence on my frozen fish?

The underlying story for consumers is just like when you walk into a Whole Foods, you know you’re in a safe place, you know you can’t make that bad of a mistake. And now you’re going to get money back, you’re going to get gift cards. Who doesn’t like that?

CPG FYI: The video is pretty entertaining, but isn’t 1:35 a long story to tell?

Clark: That’s short for Humanaut, though. It may be hard to believe, but when we first started rolling out videos about seven years ago, we had four-minute videos, we had three-minute videos. We’ve found that if you strike the right balance, make it compelling and watchable in its own right, people will stick around.

In our work for Only Organic, we had a [30-minute] video where we literally sang our way through hundreds of chemicals. In that situation, we were inviting people to skip the video, but the completion rate on that one was kind of ridiculous.

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