Idahoan Foods saw sales of its dehydrated mashed potato products rise during the pandemic as consumers cooked more meals at home.
Consumers embraced more time at home by experimenting with new recipes, reaching for global flavors as a way to explore other cultures, and showed off their skills on social media.
Idahoan tapped into these rapidly evolving consumer trends and pivoted marketing strategies throughout the year in order to connect with new households and keep encouraging consumers to pull Idahoan products from their shelves on a regular basis.
In this interview, Idahoan Foods’ Vice President of Retail Marketing and Business Development Ryan Ellis discusses the company’s newest marketing initiative and how Idahoan stays connected with consumers.Historically, we’ve positioned our Flavored Mashed Potatoes as a high-quality side dish available in 17 exciting flavor varieties that deliver homemade taste in minutes when prepared according to the simple directions on our packaging.
To bring this positioning to life, our communications centered around how our products are made with 100% real Idaho potatoes from local growers, which we wash, peel, boil, and mash just like you would at home.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers were experimenting in the kitchen both out of necessity and as a source of entertainment while spending more time at home.
We recently noticed a shift in consumer behavior and mindset, with much-experiencing cooking fatigue, which helped drive an adjusted recipe strategy that ranges in complexity.
This latest evolution to our strategy showcases Idahoan’s ease and deliciousness for those once again gravitating toward convenience-driven solutions, as well as more involved recipes that appeal to our ‘foodie’ consumers.
How is your new marketing initiative — Project PULL — helping maintain increased sales momentum?
When it comes to Idahoan products, we know that tasting is believing — as shown by our 90% loyalty rate. This was the inspiration behind Project PULL, an initiative spearheaded by Wes Myer, director of retail marketing at Idahoan Foods.
Getting Idahoan into the hands of consumers is always an effective tactic for us, and we’ve executed a number of programs over the last year to engage and retain the new households we’ve reached.
However, we also recognized that many new consumers may have been introduced to our products during the period of grocery stockpiling that occurred at the start of the pandemic, and we’ve adjusted our recipe strategy and creativity to help inspire them to pull Idahoan from their pantries if they hadn’t already.
We’ve worked to highlight the diverse role Idahoan products can play in these culinary adventures through recipes ranging from our Indian Butter Chicken Mashed Potato Bowl to our Hawaiian Pulled Pork Mashed Potato Bowl.Between our work with corporate chefs and influencer partners through the years, we’ve built a dynamic repertoire of brand-owned recipes. This series highlighting global flavors have been the latest phase in a recipe strategy we’ve strategically kept nimble to continually align with consumer trends.
Another recipe-focused strategy is the TikTok recipe challenge #idahoanmash. What inspired this challenge and Idahoan’s TikTok dance challenge, the #mashoutchallenge?
Kiersten McFarland, the marketing specialist at Idahoan Foods, approached this from two angles, starting with a culinary challenge because we are, at the end of the day, experts in food and that’s what we know best.
This also allowed us to showcase the product we’ve found resonates with Gen Z most — our Flavored Mashed Potatoes. At the same time, we launched the dance challenge to show these consumers a fun side of our brand they may not have experienced before.