In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, Effect Partners was essentially the “field marketing arm” for the organic and natural industry, launching the in-person sampling efforts for emerging organic and natural brands including: CLIF Bar, Nature’s Path, Earthbound Farm, Stonyfield, Annie’s, Amy’s Naturals, Pacific Foods, Luna Bar, Wolfgang Puck and many more. This event marketing for the individual brands was working. However, Effect realized that one individual brand could not make a significant dent in introducing and promoting a new category. Additionally, most of these very small (at that time) brands did not have huge budgets to do meaningful sampling efforts. With experience in creating campaigns and having a deep knowledge in food, food retail and food’s impact on the environment, we created a “co-op” sampling program and campaign to take up to 30 brands at a time to major mainstream events across the country. The Organic and Natural Experience (ONE) Tour was born. ONE was designed to increase consumer trial, education and product sales for leading organic and natural brands. By combining many brands together under one tent, it allowed these “baby brands” to be able to afford to do sampling and build their brands in key markets.
Debuting in 2004, Effect worked with the country’s leading mainstream event organizers and negotiated preferable pricing to bring in healthy food sampling options. We then took this list of event opportunities to the CEOs and CMOs of these emerging brands and allowed them to pick which events they wanted to attend. We created a colorful pocket-sized common coupon book that was passed out at every event, whether the company was being sampled there or not.
ONE traveled the country to family/fitness/health-oriented fairs, festivals and expos with carefully selected and highly trained brand ambassadors to drive sampling, product sales and coupon redemption. The effort was so successful, the ONE tour continued through 2012 and expanded to nearly 25 events in 13 leading organic and natural markets annually. Effect managed the tour, its brand and grocery/event partners, ambassador advocacy network, training, marketing/publicity and tracked the experiential impact. As these emerging brands were bought up by larger companies, the ability for the brands to work together with competitors was made unworkable.
Over the next eight years, Effect grew its participating organic and natural brand partners from seven to more than 30. Direct consumer engagements increased from 350,000 in its first year to more than 750,000; and more than three million coupons were distributed. Even more telling, average coupon redemption rates were a staggering percentage above industry norms, in some cases reaching as high as 20%. Visibility included earned local and national media placements as well as event publicity, press releases, VIP/backstage product placements and more. When in town, ONE would make appearances at local Co-ops, Whole Foods and mainstream retailers, sampling the ONE brands and growing awareness for these “cool new brands.” Testimonials from brands and consumers illustrated we’d hit the magic combination of gaining trust through an ‘organic’ activation that aided the awareness, understanding and propensity to purchase organic and natural foods.