Welch’s Goes After Men in Latest Campaign

David Diaz, Executive, Davenport Laroche

Smart brands shift their message and audience focus in response to or anticipation of prevailing trends. It’s wise to stand back and look at who you’re talking to every now and then, to decide if you’re missing a group or otherwise leaving money on the table. Sometimes, this leads to relatively minor tweaks in your campaign strategy. Sometimes, this leads to an entirely new approach for your brand.

As an example, let’s take a look at the relatively recent evolution of a tried and true family grocery staple: Welch’s grape juice.

For decades, the Welch’s ads were aimed at moms with kids who didn’t want those kids living off of sugary soft drinks or sodas. Welch’s was touted as a sweet but “healthier” alternative “kids would love.” Moms agreed, and juice sales flourished. Then, in more recent years, something interesting happened. Moms started looking at the sugar content on grape juice and other juice drinks, realizing these drinks weren’t so much “healthier” after all.

Sales fell, and marketers were force to adjust. First, there were additional products added to the lineup: no additives juices, and 100% juices, “less sugar” varieties, or artificial sweetener selections. That worked to a point… but the market continued to shrink as more “healthy” drinks flooded store shelves. The children of GenX parents started drinking acai smoothies and green tea. Welch’s and other juice brands needed a new market. Welch’s chose to go after a new market with a different message.

Company messaging reps looked at the data, and they looked for cohorts they were missing. They found adult men. Three out of four guys drink juice with breakfast, and many of them grew up drinking Welch’s… Researchers learned something else that surprised them: more than half of all surveyed GenX adult men did most of the grocery shopping in their families. Though they had grown up drinking Welch’s, and many still bought it for their kids, they weren’t drinking it.  After all, it was a “kids drink,” right? Not so fast, Welch’s marketing team said.

Commercial messages began talking about “oxidation” and the associated aging affects. How to fight oxidation? Well, you could jump through a bunch of hoops, mixing and chopping and juicing yourself… or you could just grab tried and true Welch’s juice you loved as a kid, because it had “proven antioxidant” features and benefits.

Commercials were added that featured rugged, “manly,” farmers out working the land. Guys that the guys buying the juice could identify with. The drastic shift was a risk, but, so far, it’s a risk that paid off.

The lesson? Don’t settle and never assume. Routinely look at even your most “no brainer” or longest-running campaigns and messages. Review. Crunch the numbers. Ask good questions and do smart research. You may find an audience that you never expected, waiting to hear from you.