Is Your Food Brand ‘New & Improved’?

Warning: You Might Wanna Tell Your Fan Base Why—

Just ask the folks at Oberweis Dairy in North Aurora, Illinois, where they’ve seen retail sales drop significantly after introducing a packaging change with the very best intentions.

Let’s start with a quick backgrounder. Oberweis could be a poster child for how an emerging food brand manufacturer can become a regional powerhouse, particularly as consumers continue to gravitate toward buying locally.

Positioned as a company that delivers quality through more traditional means of dairy production, Oberweis’ brand image is heavily tied up in its almost iconic clear-glass bottle.

At the point of sale, next to all the plastic-jug brands that say, “We’re mass produced in a factory,” the glass bottle says, “Our milk comes from real dairy farms and, therefore, is a higher quality.”

Later, at home, when a shopper tastes the milk and the retail impression is validated . . . a fan is born.

So, when Oberweis introduced a new opaque, amber glass bottle, specifically to protect the nutrient- and taste-integrity of the milk inside, why did customers stop buying it?

Because, If You Don’t Build It, They Won’t Come

We’ve talked about how branding and innovation can transform even a ‘commodity’ food product like milk.

Oberweis’ sales drop is not necessarily the result of a branding or innovation mistake.

The mistake was making such a significant change without notifying the customer base already familiar with and loyal to the Oberweis brand.

Look at it this way. People who love Oberweis milk put stock in the clear glass bottle. They appreciate the perception of purity that comes from seeing the white milk inside. Perhaps they count on that bottle as a quick way to find Oberweis in the retail fridge. Or, frankly, any number of other possible reasons.

If you change the bottle they know and love, you have to artfully reveal and explain the change to your fans. Even if the change is based on market research and improves the milk’s value.

4 Ways to Promote Your Food Brand Innovation

Every product brand and market situation is unique. But here are just a few examples for consideration.

1. Create and Build Around a Campaign

Develop a promotional message that tells your fans what you’re changing and why.

In the case of Oberweis, the change was to better preserve the brand attributes that fans already valued. These shoppers ought to be receptive to what you’re doing.

The key is you have to sell them on it.

2. Point of Sale / Shopper Marketing

What consumers want from an in-store experience is changing. However, retailers recognize that purchase decisions are still made in-store.

Shoppers want to be engaged by brands in-store, which was revealed during a study of 14,000 shoppers by Ogilvy Action.

Deploy your campaign at the point of sale and point consumers to more in-depth information.

3. Social Media

According to the Food Marketing Institute (FMI US Grocery Shopper Trends, 2016) about half of all shoppers engage with food digitally through social media—with Facebook and Pinterest leading the way.  These shoppers plan, shop for, enjoy and share food experiences.

What better way to spread the word about an exciting brand innovation you’re about to introduce?

4. Website marketing

At the very least, use your existing online medium to make a quick 2-step sales pitch.

Maybe a popup on your home page that says, “Look for our new amber glass bottle!”

Then, a landing page that goes in-depth about the “why,” perhaps as part of a larger PR story that includes experts in food science.


Food brands with new and innovative products have something to shout about—especially when they are a real benefit to consumers-such as the case with Oberweis new bottles.

Have something worth shouting about? Call us at NewPoint.