Healthy Food Marketing: The Irresistible Chickpea

SawtoothHummus

 

When I was a kid, I thought chickpeas were “old lady food.” My grandmother always put them on her salads at the salad bar. How things have changed. Hummus has become a staple in my diet and my fridge. And it’s not just me, America loves hummus. This didn’t happen on its own. Chickpea marketers brought this tiny bean to the United States and catapulted it into an ever-expanding industry. Marketers, here’s what you need to know to apply THIS success to your brand.

Make magic by launching a movement

Many brands tried to bring hummus to America, but Sabra made it stick. Even though Sabra has been around since 1986, 2007 was the turning point, when PepsiCo put some skin in the game. They released a fleet of food trucks to offer samples across the country. They launched a three step plan to introduce hummus to people who had never heard of it: hummus as dip, hummus as spread, hummus on everything. It worked. This was a classic case of brand management working strategic magic. They didn’t sell hummus, they launched a cultural movement. According to Scott Goodson, who worked on the Sabra launch: “Movements move brands to move people to move product.”

Bring global trends home

The hummus craze made chickpeas a household name. The one-time Middle Eastern staple, for example, is in 98% of homes in Israel. Now hummus can be found in almost 25% of homes in the U.S. I see it on just about every restaurant menu. And now I’m seeing all kinds of new chickpea products on the market. I picked up a bag of Hippeas at Starbucks this week. I could have sworn it was Pirate’s Booty (one of my longtime favorites) but it was actually a puffed vegan-cheese-coated chickpea. Leave it to Starbucks to be on top of the very latest food, flavor and health trends.

Innovate, innovate, innovate

ALL the work that Sabra did growing the hummus market is now being enjoyed by start-up brands. Because Americans now “get” chickpeas. They know what they taste like and how healthy they are. Sabra laid the foundation necessary for the current chickpea market. Now chickpeas are hitting the shelves as pastas, fries, snacks, chips and even a mayonnaise spread.

So marketers, are you hungry yet? Well fill up on some Banza chickpea pasta and dessert hummus, then get ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work. The lessons the little chickpea have taught us could apply to just about any market. Wanna hear more? Let’s talk.

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