POS Merchandising: Ocean Mist Farms

Ocean Mist Farms made the most of point-of-sale merchandising to ultimately get consumers to join its Artichoke Aficionados Club via a new mobile website.

• Point-of-sale materials, including paper “petals” placed in individual artichokes, instructed consumers to enter to win a cash sweepstakes.
• Quick response codes on each piece of POS material directed shoppers to a new mobile website where they could join the Artichoke Aficionados Club and enter to win a grand prize of $10,000.
• A supermarket display contest helped build excitement, and Ocean Mist Farms grew membership in its Artichoke Aficionados Club 400%.

Ocean Mist Farms made the most of point-of-sale merchandising to ultimately get consumers to join its Artichoke Aficionados Club via a new mobile website.

The big attention-getter was the company's first-ever cash sweepstakes, featuring a grand prize of $10,000. All POS materials, ranging from signage to stickers to paper “petals” manually inserted in artichokes, called attention to the sweepstakes and told consumers how to enter. Quick response codes were printed on each piece of POS material, directing shoppers to the company's newly launched mobile website, “the centerpiece” of the promotion, as Kori Tuggle, Ocean Mist Farms' director of marketing and business development, described it. Only on the mobile website, m.oceanmist.com [4], could shoppers enter.

The promotion, which ran for six weeks last spring during peak artichoke production, is a good example of effectively combining traditional, old-time marketing strategies, e.g., POS materials and newspaper ads, with the latest in social and digital media.

The Castroville, Calif.-based company, the country's largest grower of artichokes, distributed POS signage with QR code to retailers across the country beforehand and also made them available for ordering online. In addition, the company supplied retailers with display kits, and encouraged them to build large displays of their fresh artichokes. Retailers tended to place those displays in prominent places, either at the head of the produce aisle or sometimes just inside the store's entrance.

By joining the company's artichoke club to get a chance at the $10,000 prize, the new members also were given access to the club's regularly updated recipe ideas, article archives featuring meal ideas and health and wellness tips, and an “Insider Information” section featuring monthly crop updates, state-specific promotional e-blasts, and more.

From literally hands-on efforts, tucking the paper “petals” bearing sweepstakes information between the leaves of artichokes at field level, to using the most current digital and social media, the family-owned company ran the gamut with efforts to engage consumers and also strengthen ties with its retailer customers.

“We used a mix of digital media tools with the new mobile site being the centerpiece of the sweepstakes,” said Ocean Mist's Tuggle.

“All of our on-pack QR codes, linking social media sites [Facebook & Twitter] and online advertising, were directed to the mobile site for the sweepstakes entry page.”

By making the company's new mobile site the only place at which consumers could enter the sweepstakes, Ocean Mist was able to measure consumer response, Tuggle explained.

“The use of a single, online sweepstakes entry access page allowed us to effectively measure not only the participation by consumers but also [to determine] their online source of finding us.”

In addition to the grand prize, every week during the six-week promotional period, 10 sweepstakes entrants won a home-delivered case of field-fresh artichokes.

The company's nationwide sweepstakes promo ran six weeks, from March 28 through May 8, supporting sales of fresh artichokes during peak spring season by building excitement among shoppers nationwide. A separate supermarket display contest helped build excitement at store level. And then, entrants, by joining the artichoke club, have stayed engaged with Ocean Mist.

“Our primary benefit of this promotion was reaching our promotional objective of engaging and increasing our artichoke club membership,” Tuggle said. Mission accomplished. During the six-week promotion period, membership in the club grew 400%, from 8,600 members, to 34,121 members.