H-E-B finds unique way to get shoppers involved in promoting products

Dive Brief:

  • Texas grocer H-E-B launched a statewide video contest that encouraged shoppers to create and submit a commercial featuring their favorite H-E-B Primo Picks, one-of-a-kind products that are featured monthly across the supermarket chain, according to Own Brands Now
  • H-E-B chose 10 finalists, and Texas shoppers were encouraged to vote for their favorite. The grand prize winner received $25,000 and an appearance in an H-E-B commercial. 
  • The prize-winning video, which depicts a funny encounter between an adult and a kid entrepreneur giving away free cookies in order to sell H-E-B MooTopia Milk for top dollar, is now part of an official H-E-B commercial.

Dive Insight:

This isn't the first time that H-E-B has engaged its customers in a contest. In February, the Texas grocery kicked off its "Primo Picks Quest for Texas Best" competition, which seeks the best new food and beverage products made in the Lone Star state. H-E-B began the competition in 2014. The grocer invites local producers to attend a community meeting with H-E-B representatives who can advise them on product development before making their final submission to the contest.

Since it first launched the contest, the retailer has added 135 local Texas products to its private label portfolio and created an affective consumer-facing campaign in the process.

The H-E-B Primo Picks Video Showdown Contest is another iteration of this same strategy, but one that has greater visibility and can impact both loyal customers and an untapped pool of shoppers. The resulting commercial campaign also sets it apart from its competition, few of whom are willing to shell out for TV spots, relying instead on traditional branded websites, circulars and email blasts to advertise. 

Grocery commercials have great success in the U.K., likely the result of the high production value of TV campaigns coming from grocers such as Sainsburys and Tesco, so its interesting that American retailers have largely ignored the medium. It seems unlikely this H-E-B commercial will drive other grocers to invest in the medium, especially as price deflation and Lidl's U.S. arrival loom over the industry. 

Competing retailers can discover cheaper ways to leverage the most powerful aspect of H-E-B's commercial contest: the local factor. Both H-E-B's product and video contests celebrate homegrown creations and bring local producers into the spotlight, positioning the retailer as a fun neighborhood institution, rather than an impersonal business. Kroger did something similar with its Kroger Stories website, which celebrates the company's values, charitable efforts and employees. It helped give a human face to America's largest grocery chain.  With the local products market projected to hit $20 billion by 2020, this is a space that grocers should look to center their brand on. It's a good bet that H-E-B will continue to be a leader in this effort.

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Filed Under: Grocery Corporate Marketing
Top image credit: Enoch Lai