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Driving Walnut Consumption Through Snacking

California Walnut Board – Over 95% of Americans snack at some point throughout the day. When we saw snacking move into first place for the top usage for walnuts in our Attitude & Usage (A&U) study, we knew the time was right to capitalize on this trend. In May, we kicked off a campaign designed to showcase California walnuts as the ideal snack food.

The campaign inspires consumers to snack better by focusing on the simplicity of snacking on a handful of walnuts. We aim to create further excitement around the campaign by engaging consumers and reminding them of the unique flavor profile walnuts offer for both sweet and savory snacking options by having them pick their snacking preference, Team Sweet or Team Savory.

In May, we also began our partnership with former Bachelorette, Ali Manno, to create content that highlights the versatility of walnuts as a snack. Ali shared her favorite sweet and savory walnut recipes in a blog post and on social media. Audience reception of Ali’s posts was overwhelmingly positive, and the inclusion of her daughter in the content amplified her relatability. Many commenters expressed intent to make her walnut spreads and contributed to the #WalnutsSweetOrSavory conversation by sharing their snacking preferences. Coverage of Ali’s snacking story was recently posted on Women’s Health and was syndicated through both Yahoo! and MSN.

In order to give our snacking campaign a timely hook to help break through the COVID-19-dominated media landscape, we conducted a nationally representative survey to learn more about how Americans’ snacking habits had changed during shelter-in-place restrictions, so we could better understand how walnuts fit in. The survey, conducted in partnership with Kelton Global, revealed that Americans are snacking now more than ever, with 49% snacking more now than before the pandemic began.

At the same time, many snackers are turning to indulgent snacks as a source of comfort, with 31% saying their new habits have led to recent weight gain. We leveraged these results in our outreach, with walnuts being the perfect snack ingredient that can pair with nearly any flavor, highlighting California Walnuts’ research that has shown walnuts may play an important role in maintaining a healthy weight. We also shipped mailers full of new and innovative walnut-packed snack products to media and health practitioner contacts.

To capitalize on the increased use of digital media during this time, the campaign continues to be supported with snacking-themed digital ads and social media posts driving consumers to walnuts.org to engage with the campaign landing page, recipes, and blog content. The effort was further amplified via content marketing placements with print and digital partners, such as the Kitchn article “Berry Walnut Trail Mix Is the Afternoon Snack You’ve Been Waiting For” and Men’s Health “Make Walnut Energy Balls for a Snack”. Articles like “Summer Snack Hacks to Make the Long Days Simpler” on our blog rounded out the plan. Social media ads and polls encouraged consumers to join the conversation, resulting in high engagement levels.

Editorial content from the blog and promotional landing pages have pulled visitors into the site with 70K+ clicks through the end of June, and more than 45K+ Recipe/Collection views.

With consumers shopping for groceries online at record levels, California Walnuts launched an ecommerce digital advertising program on Kroger, Amazon, Instacart, Albertsons, Safeway and Ahold for the months of July and August. Additionally, traditional retail promotions will bring the campaign to life in September with snacking-themed promotions at Publix, Kroger, and Harris Teeter. Display shippers at 3,000 locations will encourage customers to “Grab a Handful of Nutrition” with California Walnuts.

Looking ahead, we plan to continue building upon our campaign’s momentum by discovering new ways to reach consumers and share the many reasons California walnuts are not only the ideal snack food, but also the perfect ingredient for sweet and savory snack creations.

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