How Peeps is marketing to millennial moms

Kathleen Parker, VP of marketing at Peeps parent Just Born Quality Confections, tells Diana Bradley why the marshmallow chicks need millennial moms.

How do you structure marketing and communications at Peeps?
At Just Born, the brand and marketing teams work closely with corporate executives to consistently support tight alignment across brand initiatives and corporate goals and values. We rely on our agency partners for added value and support, and work with them from program inception through execution for seamless campaigns.

We have worked with Coyne PR for PR and social media support for the last three years, which has benefitted us with a truly integrated approach that shares content across the two disciplines, as well as the execution of numerous campaigns.

What is your biggest marketing challenge?
We have had a strong hold on the Easter season as the leading non-chocolate candy for decades. Our iconic status has made it difficult to break out beyond Easter, so we’re always looking to other seasons to ensure we are spreading awareness about our other products.

How are you doing that?
We have expanded across multiple seasons including Christmas, Halloween, summer, and Valentine’s Day. We develop products that emulate traditional seasonal flavors and shapes, as well as new and unique trends in the market. We also had some great partnerships beyond seasonal tie-ins, such as the Minions and Jurassic World movies, which helped further ingrain us in pop culture.

We partner with our retailers to deliver flavor trends to provide exclusive opportunities and build relationships. Additionally, we focus on alternative uses for Peeps that extend well beyond Easter. For example, incorporating Peeps into recipes is a great way to enhance look and taste. Peeps have also proven to be great elements to add to different craft projects.

What have you done to engage consumers around other holidays?
For Halloween, Peeps and Coyne leveraged TINT – a social aggregation service – to curate and feature user-generated content on www.marshmallowpeeps.com. Peeps super fans, influencers, and enthusiasts were encouraged to share their spooky Peeps-o-lantern creations and treats. The campaign resulted in hundreds of unique pieces of content being shared and aggregated to the Peeps website during the Halloween season.

And, for Groundhog Day, we capitalized on the buzz around the upcoming presidential election. We asked America to vote who they look to as the first official sign of spring – the iconic yellow Peeps chick or the Groundhog. We monitored conversations via the dedicated hashtag #VotePeeps and responded to fans in real time, thanking them for their votes. Radio celebrities Danielle Monaro and Froggy, from the nationally syndicated Elvis Duran and the Morning Show [on Z100], even tweeted their support for Peeps.

What campaign are you running this year to promote Peeps around Easter?
One of the most interesting elements is maintaining our ongoing partnerships and supporting new ones. This season, we are working with several national retailers to expand our Peeps products outside the candy aisle.

Last year, we worked with Prairie Farms to develop three different flavors of Peeps Milk, as well as Betty Crocker on recipe creations, both of which will be extended into this year.

This year, Coyne is helping us create Peeps customized fashion accessories to encourage fans to incorporate marshmallow into their "Easter best" outfits. The PR team is making a variety of items such as fascinators, brooches, and bowties, and the social team is sure to have fun with that content.

Do you engage fans a lot on social media in real time?
Our social strategy aligns with the platform preference and behaviors of our target audience: women and moms. We’re constantly listening, engaging, and having fun with them from @PeepsBrand on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

We specifically implemented the digital-focused #VotePeeps campaign in order to attract millennial moms, as they are looking to recreate Peeps traditions their parents had or making new ones with their own families.

Fans are always sharing their #Peepsonality with us on social, including photos of homemade treats and kid-friendly crafts using their favorite Peeps.

What is a "peepsonality"?
How people enjoy their Peeps. Our fans have specific ways they like to eat them, memories of finding them in their Easter baskets as a child, and even find creative ways to experiment, like blowing them up in the microwave. A third of our fans use Peeps for dioramas, crafts, and recipes, rather than just enjoying the candy on its own.

Do you work with influencers?
In the past year, we have been digging deeper into influencers and working closely with mommy-bloggers. We know these outlets are a valuable source for moms looking to create family fun.

Working with mommy-bloggers has evolved from simple engagement to more of a partnership because they are equally excited to work with us, and enjoy putting their creativity to the test to create new recipes and crafts with our seasonal Peeps.

How do you deal with the myriad myths out there about Peeps, such as the rumor they are indestructible?
Hearing a myth about your brand basically means you’ve hit iconic status. Fans have a strong opinion of Peeps; they either love them or hate them. But everyone has a story that involves Peeps.

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